Church Music Publishers Association Update

by Reiff Lorenz, Lorenz Music

The Church Music Publishers Association held its annual convention in April this year. We discussed many regulatory issues and industry concerns. Fighting copyright infringement continues to be the top priority of the CMPA. We have made significant progress in recent years. Here are some examples of the discussions and initiatives that CMPA champions:

  • YouTube now licenses the songs in their videos and is implementing automated song identification to find user-embedded uses of copyrighted material.
  • Facebook is a big concern. Copyright infringement is rampant on that site, mostly because their privacy settings don’t allow song owners to search the service for infringing uses. This makes it impossible for publishers to send the take-down notices that are required by copyright law. The only positive aspect of this system is that the same privacy settings restrict the number of users who can access the infringing material.
  • CMPA lends its support to other music-industry groups, like the Music Publishers Association (MPA), National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), and the Music Industry Policy Group, and the Washington Music Industry Group. The CMPA leverages their considerable resources and they get to use the CMPA name to demonstrate their policies have support from the grass-roots church musicians.
  • The major performing-rights organizations (PROs) attended the CMPA convention, and presented the state-of-the-industry from their perspective. With the proliferation of licensing agencies in recent years (from ~5 to 300+ over the last 15 years!) there is a lot to keep track of. Most notably this year was the sale of CCLI to SESAC, and then the sale of SESAC to private-equity group Blackstone.
  • Through our sister-organization, the CMPA Action Fund, we continue to address legislative issues and lobby in Washington, DC. We were a co-signer of a petition to the Trump administration to strengthen copyrights. We weighed when the new Librarian of Congress was appointed. We are petitioning for fair compensation from music streaming services, such as Pandora. We lent our support for an overhaul of the legally-mandated price controls on licensing recorded music. We argued that the highly-profitable “non-commercial” radio stations should pay a reasonable rate for the music they use.