Creators push for Fair Royalties at the United Nations

Creators have called upon the United Nations to promote fair payments for creators in the digital market.

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Speaking on behalf of CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, at a panel organised at the United Nations in New York on 27 April on the occasion of the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) IP Day ‘Get Up. Stand Up: For Music’, composer-songwriter Eddie Schwartz, Co-Chair of Music Creators North America and President of the Songwriters Association of Canada, said that songwriters, composers and lyricists have seen the value of their works diminish over the past decade and their remuneration erode due to market imbalances.

"Digital technologies have allowed creative works to circulate around the world like never before. Thanks to the Internet, African, Asian, and Latin American music creators have instantaneous and universal access to European and North American audiences. Yet, ironically, this unprecedented access has not translated into any economic benefit for creators. It has actually reduced the value of our works,” said Schwartz.

Sharing some personal experience, Schwartz added: “In the physical world of the 20th century, a million sales would have enabled someone like me, with a series of hits, to live with a comfortable middle class income. Today, in the digital era of the 21st century, one million streams earn me 35$, the price of a pizza. As it is increasingly difficult to make a living, the number of professional music creators in the United States is sharply down. Will those who create value with their musical works continue to receive virtually nothing while those who extract value from these creative works get virtually everything?” he asked.

Schwartz said that one way to address this issue was to develop Fair Trade Music schemes, in reference to the movement launched last year by a global coalition of creators. "Fair Trade Music is about fairness in the way creators are remunerated in the digital world," explained Schwartz. "We must adopt an ethical, equitable and sustainable system in order to develop this new value chain so that the works of those who devote their lives to creating are not valued near zero. As creators, we believe that copyright and authors’ rights and any other legal tools are the way to ensure that creators are fairly treated, their works protected and cultural diversity preserved."

Schwartz invited the United Nations and its member states to promote fair remuneration schemes as well as strong legal protection frameworks to guarantee a fair treatment of creators, ensure the development of new generations of authors, and boost economic growth for the economies of countries around the world. We need policy-makers to step up their game and be on our side," he concluded.


About Eddie Schwartz

Eddie Schwartz is a Nashville-based award-winning songwriter who has penned such hit songs as "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" recorded by Pat Benetar, "Don't Shed A Tear" by Paul Carrack, and "The Doctor" by the Doobie Brothers, as well as some two hundred songs recorded and performed by artists such as Joe Cocker, Carly Simon, Peter Frampton, Robert Palmer, Jeffrey Osborne, Donna Summer, Rita Coolidge, Rascal Flatts and Mountain among others. He has served for many years on the boards of the Songwriters Association of Canada, SOCAN, CARAS and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and more recently as Co-Chair of Music Creators North America and the CIAM (CISAC’s international authors’ council for music) Executive Committee. He is one of the founders and leading advocates of the Fair Trade Music programme.


CISAC – the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers – is the world’s leading network of authors’ societies (also referred to as Collective Management Organisations, or CMOs).

With 230 member societies in 120 countries, CISAC represents four million creators from all geographic areas and all artistic repertoires; music, audiovisual, drama, literature and visual arts. CI SAC is presided over by electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre and our four vice-presidents are: Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo, Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow, Indian poet, scriptwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar and Argentinean film director Marcelo Piñeyro.

CISAC works to protect the rights and promote the interests of creators worldwide. We enable collective management organisations to seamlessly represent creators across the globe and ensure that royalties flow to authors for the use of their works anywhere in the world. To this end, CISAC provides the highest business, legal, and IT standards to protect creators’ rights and to support the development of the international network of collective management organisations.

Founded in 1926, CISAC is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation with headquarters in France and regional offices in Africa (Burkina Faso), South America (Chile), Asia-Pacific (China) and Europe (Hungary). | Twitter: @CISACNews | Facebook: CISACWorldwide

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