The EARN IT Act
Reintroduced January 31, 2022
What is the EARN IT Act?
On January 31, 2020, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal introduced the EARN IT Act. The bill was ostensibly designed to combat online child sex abuse but lays the groundwork for unprecedented internet censorship. The latest version of the bill would effectively allow all 50 states to regulate the internet as they choose.
But isn’t fighting child sex abuse important?
Obviously! But as it’s written now, the bill would give way too much power to state officials to censor the internet as they please. Any censorship would need to be tied, in some way, to child sex abuse, but stretching a law way past its original intent would be nothing new. And we live in an era where a growing number of voters (and elected officials) believe in the bogus Q-Anon pedophilia conspiracy that has tied nearly every opponent of Trump to sex trafficking.
We also have reason to be worried about the rights of protest and dissent in this country. Black Lives Matter protesters have been assaulted by police in full view of cameras and shoved into unmarked vans by unidentified officers. Most of these abuses have only come to light through social media, often after denials by local officials. States and cities are censoring protests with impunity. Now is not the time to give states the power to censor the internet as well.
What can I do?
On January 31, 2022, Senator Richard Blumenthal reintroduced the EARN IT Act with 18 co-sponsors from both parties. Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 to tell them to oppose the EARN IT Act.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan
Passed November 15, 2021
What is in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan?
On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, providing $550 billion in infrastructure investments to improve roads, utilities, and broadband.
Creators are key drivers of economic growth and recovery. In the short term, the bipartisan infrastructure plan will help ensure that creators have the resources they need to turn ideas into reality, but it leaves our future in limbo.
Key Features of the Plan
Expands broadband access. High-speed internet access is absolutely essential in the creative economy. The deal includes $65 billion that the White House says will ensure every single American has access to broadband – a huge deal for rural communities of color, especially. The funding will also be used to force companies to offer low-priced plans and to encourage competition between companies.
Expands public transportation. Whether due to intentional exclusion or the impacts of gentrification, communities of color often lack quality public transit access, even in big cities. With transportation comes economic opportunity, and the $39 billion in public transit spending will be a boon to creators and their communities.
Provides environmental remediation. More than a quarter of Black and Latinx Americans live near a toxic Superfund site. The deal invests $21 billion to clean up these sites and rectify this grave environmental injustice. This will most benefit the public health of local residents, but clean communities will also spur economic growth and opportunity.
Reconnects communities. For as long as there have been economies, community relationships have played a critical role. Throughout the last century, Black neighborhoods were bulldozed in half to make room for highways. The results were devastating for our social relations and our economic ones. The original plan would have dedicated $24 billion to start righting these wrongs, but the bipartisan deal slashed the funding to just $1 billion.
Improves power and water infrastructure. The deal will fund $128 billion in improvements to our power and water infrastructure. Clean water and reliable electricity are bare essentials to live and work in the modern world, but recent disasters have shown how vulnerable these services often are.
What Does it Mean for the Creative Community?
Despite these important investments, the deal leaves the long-term future of communities of color and creators in serious limbo.
The plan focuses more on increasing usage of cars and planes, while doing little to combat climate change. Compared to the White House’s original proposal, the bipartisan deal cut funding for electric vehicle infrastructure by 90% and eliminated clean energy tax credits altogether. At the same time, the deal includes $121 billion in funding for roads and another $25 billion for airports. While our country’s transportation infrastructure certainly needs maintenance, it is irresponsible to increase our ability to pollute without making an equally substantial investment in climate change mitigation. As the impacts of climate change continue to intensify, investments in power infrastructure and environmental remediation may seem gravely insufficient.
The bipartisan plan has $0 for innovation, public housing, or schools. The original plan included nearly $1 trillion in investments in innovation, such as research funding for HBCUs, and building improvements, including public housing, schools, hospitals, and child care centers. Each of these investments would have greatly benefited communities of color, but each of them was zeroed-out during the bipartisan negotiations. As a result, we have missed a major opportunity to invest in our economic and social futures.
The CASE Act
Passed December 27, 2020
What is the CASE Act?
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) was passed on December 27, 2020 and creates a new small claims board designed to ensure that individuals and small businesses can defend their copyrighted work without the huge costs of going to federal court. The U.S. Copyright Office is in the process of developing this new Copyright Claims Board, which should begin hearing claims by spring 2022.
The Music Modernization Act
Passed October 11, 2018
What is the Music Modernization Act?
The Music Modernization Act (MMA) was signed into law on October 11, 2018 and took effect on January 1, 2021. The MMA is lauded as a long-overdue way to ensure songwriters are adequately paid by streaming platforms, featuring three policies that artists and songwriters should be aware of:
- Closing of the “Pre-72 loophole”: Before the MMA, artists who recorded their musical works before 1972 were unable to collect royalties. The MMA closes the “pre-72 loophole.”
- Creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective: The MMA creates a Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) which will be responsible for collecting and distributing royalty payments to copyright owners: songwriters and publishers. The MLC will not be responsible for distributing statutory royalties that are owed to producers, record labels or performers. For those, SoundExchange is still responsible.
- Codifying of the practice of “Letters of Direction”: The MMA codifies the practice of “Letters of Direction (LOD),” which enables songwriters to split royalties among “creative participants.” This enables the MLC to also distribute digital royalties among various partners.
How to take advantage of the MMA:
- Get organized. Regardless of where you are in your music career, you’re going to want to get organized. This means determining who owns what and who will get paid. For some artists, it might just be you, the songwriter. But for others, there might be discussions that need to be had to make sure all creative partners are included. The use of LODs might be necessary. Next is to upload your songs into the MLC system, which may be a one-day project or a multi-day nightmare. Either way, you can’t get paid, if you don’t do the leg work of adding your musical works into their system.
- Get registered. Once you’ve organized your life, you’re ready to register with the MLC at www.themlc.com. Remember, registering with the MLC does not bypass the need to register with the Copyright office, which adds additional protections for your musical works.
- Get paid. The MLC Portal is the tool you will need to use to receive your payments and get paid!