The US National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) is training its sights on Facebook, calling for the social network to adopt a more proactive approach towards licensing publishing rights.
In an op-ed piece for Billboard, NMPA boss David Israelite pointed to some of the popular cover versions that have been hit videos on Facebook, noting a recent study of covers of Adele’s ‘Hello’ that found Facebook videos outperforming YouTube videos on average.
“We wrote to Facebook in July of 2015, asking them to work with music publishers to ensure songwriters were respected and paid. At that time, Facebook was in the process of negotiating deals with major record labels in order to license the distribution of music videos, but had not yet approached publishers about also compensating songwriters. Unfortunately, over a year has passed and nothing has changed,” wrote Israelite.
“Facebook’s inactivity and unresponsiveness has left publishers no other choice but to attempt to remove the music that amounts to stealing from their songwriters. To aid in this effort, NMPA and our member publishers have sent thousands of takedown requests, but this is merely a drop in the bucket.”
Israelite’s piece is the latest confirmation that Facebook was negotiating music-video deals with labels in 2015, despite issuing a firm denial of a Music Ally story on its rumoured audio-streaming ambitions with a statement that it had “no plans to go into music streaming” that year.
There may be light ahead for music publishers, however: in September it emerged that Facebook was hiring a director of global music licensing, with specific responsibility for publishers and collecting societies as well as labels.
As Israelite’s column makes clear, though, there are two separate (if related) areas here. One is any licensing deals that Facebook signs for music and music videos, which would require the publishers to be on board. The other is arrangements for user content that includes music, from uploaded videos to Facebook Live broadcasts.