Songwriting community take aim at safe harbours

June 2015

Music publishing, online



BASCA chairman Simon Darlow has used his speech at the Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London in London to criticise current ‘safe harbour’ provisions in EU and US law, pointing out that the likes of YouTube undermine streaming services were exploiting safe harbour legislation telling an audience of the great and the good from the song writing and music publishing worlds that this was “undermining the value of our music”. This is what Darlow said
We [BASCA] exist to promote the creators’ voice and help maintain the value of their work through lobbying, education, community and celebration.

Its fantastic that, for 60 years we have been able to honour the nominees and winners who have contributed so much to a culture and economy and have given so much pleasure to so many with heir music.

These awards are always so special to those who receive them as they are judged by their peers who clearly know how much dedication and hard work go into making music that touches our lives .

BASCA is hugely grateful to all the judges this year who gave so generously of their time and expertise. The song or composition is the seed craft of a whole industry that depends on the many talented people in this room, to create something new out of thin air.

As anyone who creates knows, to create something takes time and a lot of faith. We are all well aware that streaming is becoming the dominant means of listening to music, as ownership dwindles. But streaming has not yet proven that it can create a viable income for future generations for songwriters and composers.

This is largely because some companies exploit safe harbour legislation to avoid paying fair value for music and thereby compete unfairly with those that do. For those of you here today whose search engines provide links to software that enable people to steal songs from services that are only licensed to stream, you are undermining the value of our music.

For any others out there who remain unlicensed and rely on notice and takedown, you are accessory to the theft of our music. All of you make it virtually impossible for licenced businesses to thrive and grow. All of you are helping to kill songwriting and composition. If you value your future, please help us have a future by respecting the value of our work.

Writers publishers and legitimate streaming services must work together to build a secure future for us all. It would be a sad world indeed if there was no incentive at all to make new music. BASCA will continue to campaign vigorously and work with PRS for our joint creative voice programme to address these issues. We are proud of our British music heritage and long may it thrive.

Darlow follows on from comments made by PRS for Music CEO Robert Ashcroft who used his speech at the organisation’s AGM to comment on safe harbour legislation. Noting that whilst the music industry had had some success in closing down file sharing sites he said
“[But] who needs to pirate music when it can be accessed for free from sites that claim that they can operate without a licence, or others that hide behind the legislation to set their own rules as to what token payment they will, or will not, make? How can it be that user-generated content services can use safe harbour legislation to avoid the need to pay a licence and insist that they are mere conduits of content when their business models are predicated on monetising the creative works they carry?”
Ashcroft also said he would like streaming services such as Spotify to reduce the content available on its so called ‘freemium’ level in a bid to provide a greater incentive for consumers to sign up to premium subscription services, Ashcroft conceded that “they have to compete with user-generated content platforms, which have all the content anyway. Even when Beyonce made her new single ‘Die With You’ available exclusively on Tidal it was available on YouTube within minutes”.
Adding: “Taylor Swift is still absent from Spotify, but available on YouTube. And for those consumers who have little awareness of copyright, YouTube will helpfully point them to apps that will enable them to download streams from the service and strip ads from them, effectively offering a music experience equivalent to Spotify Premium – for free”.
“Meanwhile, Spotify can’t feed its subscription layer without bringing consumers into the ad-funded layer, and they can’t get them into the ad-funded layer unless they have all the content that is available on UGC platforms. If they don’t carry Taylor Swift or Beyonce they’re not only at a pricing disadvantage, but also at a content disadvantage. This is unfair competition”.

And who won those Ivors Novellos Awards? Well here you go:


The Most Performed Work was “Rather Be” written by Jack Patterson and James Napier (Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing/Salli Isaak Songs and Sony/ATV Music Publishing) and recorded by Clean Bandit.  The Album Award went to “So Long, See You Tomorrow” Written by Jack Steadman (Published in the UK by Imagem Music) and recorded by Bombay Bicycle Club. The Best Song Musically And Lyrically was “Take Me To Church” Written by Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Published in the UK by Sony/ATV Music Publishing/The Evolving Music Company) and the Best Original Film Score was ’71,Composed by David Holmes (Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing)
Outstanding Song Collection went to Albert Hammond. The Ivors Classical Music Award: went to Judith Weir. Boy George picked up Outstanding Contribution to British Music and the  Songwriter Of The Year was Ed Sheeran. The Ivors Inspiration Award went to James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire (The Manic Street Preachers) and  the Ivors Special Anniversary Award went to  Bob Geldof and Midge Ure,  The Lifetime Achievement award went to Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), the Special International Award went to Paul Williams and the prestigious BASCA Fellowship was awarded to Annie Lennox.
For the ten funniest speeches from the Ivors see

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