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ASCAP in Washington

100th anniversary, Library of Congress exhibit and talk of reform

(L–R) At the ribbon-cutting of the ASCAP 100th exhibit at the Library of Congress are ASCAP Board members James M. Kendrick and Leeds Levy, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), ASCAP Vice Chairman Jimmy Webb and Chief of the Library of Congress Music Division Sue Vita. Photo by Shealah Craighead

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Leadership from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers paid a visit to Washington this week. Several things were on the itinerary.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary, an exhibit at the Library of Congress opened, “ASCAP: One Hundred Years and Beyond.”

The exhibit allowed the ASCAP leadership to hobnob with Members of Congress.

Later, a panel discussion brought up the topic of reforming royalties and property rights in the digital age.

U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante stated, “I believe the time has come to review the role of the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI and their impact on the music marketplace — to assess whether, in the digital era, they are facilitating or hindering a robust exchange of transactions.”

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams (yes, that Paul Williams) said, “Technology is changing the competitive landscape and creating amazing opportunities for music to reach new audiences. But the laws that govern how we are compensated for the use of our music haven’t kept pace. We still operate under a 73-year old consent decree that hasn’t been updated since 2001 — before Apple introduced the iPod.”

ASCAP Vice Chairman and Songwriters Hall of Fame President Jimmy Webb (yes, that Jimmy Webb) added, “With each new innovation in technology, ASCAP has been there to help make sure any business that wants a music license is able to get one at a reasonable rate and that our members — the songwriters and composers, who form the foundation of the entire music ecosystem — are compensated fairly for their hard work and the value they create.”

Bonus for attendees, Williams and Webb performed several of their hit songs.