The BBC has the details of a plan by publishers to assemble and make available a database of songs and which song writers or publishers own the rights to them.
It is being built by global consultancy Deloitte, which will work with publishers such as EMI Music Publishing and online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon.
It will make it easier for new music services to get started by ensuring that artists’ work can be easily licensed for the internet, mobiles and streaming services such as Spotify, said Neil Gaffney, executive vice president at EMI Music Publishing UK, which is backing the scheme.
The database will be a global one which no doubt has much to do with the two year timeline for delivery. Despite increasing harmonization between copyright laws in different countries, there are still a lot of vagaries of which to keep track.
Of course, one could argue that if copyright laws streamlined rather than eliminated copyright registration back in the 70s for most countries, there would be no need for this effort. The article doesn’t mention whether the publishers or Deloitte will charge innovators trying to spin up new online offerings on top of the royalty payments the database is primarily designed to facilitate. It is hard for me not to see this as yet another form of rent seeking mixed in with any modicum of cluefulness this might also represent.
As has so often been explained on the various copyright panels and interviews I’ve conducted over the years, there are many rights to deal with in clearing music for commercial use. The composition rights are just the start and the only ones this story addresses, though the BBC article does mention in passing that another, separate database is at least being considered for performance rights.