In the wake of the Karaoke Cloud Summit, the music industry is questioning the judgment of songwriters like Bon Jovi, for banning his songs to be sung as karaoke tracks in America, despite their widespread availability and use outside the United States.
“When you think of American rock legends, Bon Jovi is near the top of the list, but he refuses to license his songs for karaoke use in the United States. It’s ironic,” Karaoke Cloud CEO Joseph Vangieri said regarding the rock and roller’s karaoke ban.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution allows Congress to make laws to secure the exclusive right to a work to its creator for a limited time. The original purpose of this law was to promote the progress of the arts, by providing an incentive to the creator, who would know they had exclusive rights to exploit their works for a period of time.
The law is based on a utilitarian philosophy of intellectual property, and is meant to enrich the country as a whole. The spirit of United States intellectual property law has led America to become the leading supplier of entertainment globally.
However, the spirit of the law was massively undermined in ABKCO Music, Inc. v. Stellar Recording, Inc. when the court held that karaoke required a video sync license, and wasn’t covered by a compulsory license which can be easily obtained from the Harry Fox Agency for a statutory rate.
As a result, America became one of the most difficult countries to legally license music for karaoke. Many musicians reflect the American attitude towards intellectual property and carefully license their music in the way that it will best connect with fans, which more often than not includes licensing for karaoke. Yet some musicians refuse to license their songs for karaoke in the United States, even though the laws abroad make their songs readily available to license legally for karaoke use.
Bon Jovi refuses to license his music for karaoke use in the United States, despite his American roots, and we can’t help but wonder why. It does nothing to keep his songs from being licensed overseas (and sold back into the USA by foreign companies).
Bon Jovi, won’t you please come home? We miss you a lot.