Revealed: The 186 artists fighting the YouTube-shielding DMCA


MBW broke the news on Friday that a raft of superstar artists including Sir Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Beck and Gwen Stefani had all lent their names to a petition calling for drastic change to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US.

Since then, we’ve learned that additional names including Taylor Swift and U2 have been added to this protest group, in addition to music bodies such as A2IM, the RIAA, ASCAP, A2IM, Kobalt, the NMPA and all of the major record labels and publishers.

Now we can finally reveal the full list of artist names who have undersigned the letter to US Congress, which you can see below.

They include everyone from Ryan Adams to The Black Keys, Ne-Yo, Aloe Blacc, Andra Day, Billy Joel, Carole King, Bette Midler, Jason Mraz, Pink, Mark Ronson and Sir Elton John.

“This is just the beginning. This diverse group of artists coming together illustrates that this is a movement.”

Irving Azoff

These artists and songwriters are essentially calling for a redrawing of the ‘safe harbor’ protections within the DMCA, which allow platforms such as YouTube to avoid legal liability for copyright infringement taking place on its platform.

“This is a historic moment in the music business,” said Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, who organised the letter.

“This diverse group of artists coming together illustrates that this is a movement, which should not be underestimated.  In all my years, this is the only time I can remember everyone – artists, songwriters, managers, labels, publishers, PROs – agreeing and collectively calling for change.  This is just the beginning.

“The entire industry is united and committed to pursuing a fair resolution. We are fighting for the future.”

The open letter arrives as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is slated to soon announce a framework for US copyright reform legislation following three years of hearings and consultation with various interested parties.

It reads:


As songwriters and artists who are a vital contributing force to the U.S. and to American exports around the world, we are writing to express our concern about the ability of the next generation of creators to earn a living. The existing laws threaten the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music. Aspiring creators shouldn’t have to decide between making music and making a living. Please protect them.

One of the biggest problems confronting songwriters and recording artists today is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This law was written and passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date compared to the era in which we live. It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish. Music consumption has skyrocketed, but the monies earned by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted.

The DMCA simply doesn’t work. It’s impossible for tens of thousands of individual songwriters and artists to muster the resources necessary to comply with its application. The tech companies who benefit from the DMCA today were not the intended protectorate when it was signed into law nearly two decades ago. We ask you to enact sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment. It’s only then that consumers will truly benefit.

Here’s the big list of artists and music bodies who have signed the letter, which is appearing in influential Washington publications as an ad this week:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 08.11.39Music Business Worldwide

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  • willbuckley

    So before the opposition proclaims that the push back is all from corporations and mostly successful, wealthy artists, let me say this.

    Last fall we introduced a petition asking congress to amend Section 512 by adding a ‘stay down’ provision. We have over 1,500 signatures from authors, filmmakers, photographers, designers, musicians and songwriters. Mainly independent artists.

    Because we don’t have Taylor Swift or Paul McCartney we don’t get high visibility press, that’s just the way it works, whether it’s TMZ or the NYT.

    So this isn’t just about greedy artists, music labels or corporations. It is about creators who are fighting for their survival.

    You may not have heard of us, but we’re out there fighting, every day.

    • Ilya S

      Artists/creators get their own videos taken down for supposed copyright infringement – saw example of that happening

  • Fuzzballfox Onionring

    Absolutely no mention about the DMCA’s biggest problem.

    It has literally no punishment whatsoever for making false copyright claims. None. Absolutely nothing at all.

    I mean I could go into the logistics of how the recording industry’s ‘solution’ about how to tackle online piracy amounts to “well YOU handle it” and forcing everyone else to do all the work of actually protecting their intellectual property for them. Or how record labels already use the DMCA via Youtube’s ContentID not to remove content but to monetize it, stealing ad revenue from people who should be protected under fair use and getting themselves money for doing nothing. Or how the ludicrously rich attention whores signing this bill aren’t even remotely a proper demographical representation of the truly enormous numbers of signed artists who get terrible pay from exploitative recording contracts and that the record industry isn’t remotely interested in representing THEM to the public.

  • Michael Carpenter

    Give the music away and sell concert tickets. If you are a great artist you will still get rich. So you make $20mill instead of $200mill. Boo hoo. You still make bank compared to the rest of us. Don’t use a record company. Utilize YouTube and stop being greedy.

  • Cyndi Silva

    It is hard to support this movement, unless I am not understanding it right, for artists to get more money. I think the industry must change how money is divided. Like the artist should get the bulk of the money in comparisons to those CEOs or big wigs. I honestly don’t think it is stealing a song when you post a video of family listening to the music (while your but uncle does cartwheels) on YouTube. Leave the fans alone just for having songs they like on YouTube.

  • Teresa K

    I’m not sure if this is a fascist movement by 160 artists to control all artists or just their own material. The realist in me says this is just a way for them to make more millions..obviously the millions they already have is not enough. I feel for their privation. Without YouTube there are a TON of artists and a TON of great music I would otherwise have never heard. I do what I can to support them if their music is available for buying. Are these well established 160 artists trying to deny a platform for unknown/less popular/underground artists? If these 160 don’t want their crap on YouTube then I support their right to have it removed. But artists who want to be on YouTube, artists who care about their fans and their future fans,should be allowed to have their content on the site.

  • midwestandglad

    Often when I see a good youtube and like the music , I buy the music to which I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed. Just sayin. Maybe clicks from youtube to iTunes shld start triggering a fee payable to youtube from the musicians. They could then try to cover costs of litigation with the fees.

  • Draco2023

    These asshats are already rich, and the fact is that sites like youtube do nothing to hurt their privileged lifestyles…..And now they have taken it one step further,,you are no longer allowed to sing or cover any of their songs on youtube or facebook…No matter how badly you perform it. Fuck these rich assholes.