The COVID-19 crisis has pushed the music industry to innovate.
More than ever, the ability to make money online is crucial for the sustainability of the sector.
In this rapid period of change, we must ensure everyone in the music community is able to protect their work from those who seek to exploit it without paying them for it.
Before COVID-19, our legal environment did not adequately protect the creative industries online.
Copyright owners require certainty that they will be paid when their music is on digital platforms and that they can have unauthorised content removed instantly and permanently.
The music community needs to compel both digital platforms to remove unauthorised music, and the ad industry to pull spends on illegal sites.
Digital platforms must be required to either enter into cooperative agreements with rights holders to pay for the creative content or remove the material effectively and permanently.
The move to online streaming of live music events and other performances will be seriously compromised if there are not immediate and long-lasting changes made to the authorisation provisions of the Copyright Act.
It’s also essential that illegal sites sustained by advertising are no longer supported by the advertising community, which includes brands, agencies, aggregators and digital platforms.
In a recent report, White Bullet in the UK found there was a 50% quarter-on-quarter traffic increase to the top pirate websites in the US and the UK alone.
The advertising revenues which these illegal sites continue to make undermine services which pay artists and record labels for their work.
Of additional concern is the known risk to consumers. Illegal sites are littered with malicious software and they seek to steal user data and identities.
There is a real concern that unless the online advertising community take effective and immediate action Australia will see similar growth in traffic to these illegal sites.
It’s clear there are great opportunities for musicians to innovate when it comes to getting their work online during this lockdown, but with greater emphasis comes the need for greater scrutiny.
There are no silver bullets but if the authorisation provisions are changed as we suggest it will give copyright owners the ability to protect their work online.
And if the advertising community stops fuelling the illegal music sites then there is hope that the money will go to those who create the music we love now and into the future.