I hope nobody at ASCAP is reading this. Because, if they are, they might be sending my kids to jail. First, some background.
If you don’t know who ASCAP is, they are the the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. That sounds all fine and good … after all, I support the Arts. In fact, though, they are the ones who go door-to-door to coffee shops around the country shaking down small business owners to pay royalties on recorded music they play in their stores. All to protect the artist, so he can get his 7% (the average) and the publisher can get his 93%.
Last Friday, we had our parent-teacher conference with our daughter’s 2nd grade teacher. During the conference, we inquired whatever became of the “music share day” that had been planned earlier this year. You see, my daughter, as well as other children in her class, were looking forward to bringing in their favorite music to share with their fellow students during an art class.
To my surprise, it seems that this idea was way out of line. You see, evidently, ASCAP had previously stepped up to enforce the rights of its client artists (remember, the ones getting 7% of the licensing fees). They felt that a school was no place for children to learn about music unless they pay the licensing fees. So they sued the school board in order to protect their clients rights and stamp out any unauthorized and illicit learning that might be occurring without a valid license agreement. Bless their souls. And now the school board had adopted a clear guideline regarding copyrighted material … just say no.
Bottom line … no music in the art class.
Now, I don’t deny that the original composer deserves some royalty (again, the 7%), and I’m not advocating copyright infringement. But … isn’t this a clear example where the music industry would be better off allowing schools to use copyrighted music. Not only is the use of this music in a classroom setting harmless to the industry, what better way to spread the music than allow elementary school students to bring in their favorite music. Look at what’s happened with Hannah Montana and High School Musical.
The EDA industry has long supported university education by providing courseware and tools for classroom instruction. Sure, they want to support learning, but they also understand that students will be more likely to use the tools they learned in college when they get to industry. It just makes good business sense.
(As a side note, I would like to challenge the EDA industry, especially the big vendors, to extend the university offerings to those designers who have been recently affected by layoffs. Many of these professionals are in need of retraining and the ability to access these course materials and tools will help them find their next jobs. I think it makes good business sense, because these designers will learn the company’s tools and I am sure will be forever grateful for the helping hand. If you are employed by an EDA company and are reading this, please bring this up with your management.)
That same evening, the YMCA had a Christmas Party where the kids got to perform some Christmas songs. Kiara participated in an Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas song and Nate was the 12th day of Christmas. As I watched them, my thoughts went back to the copyright issue and I wondered to myself whether the YMCA had secured the public performance rights to these songs. I asked one of the YMCA leaders about it and sure enough, they did. Phew! In fact, she told me that the kids are so “with it” these days, they even know to ask the leaders “is it on the approved list?”
Thankfully, someone was careful to make sure they had done things by the book. Otherwise, they’d have to bring out the paddy wagon to cart all these kids off to jail.
harry the ASIC guy