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Addressing the Value Gap in the Age of Digital Music Streaming

Author: Daniel Lawrence


This Note analyzes a global music industry problem known as the value gap. The value gap represents the disparity between the value that music-streaming platforms extract from musical content and the revenue generated by those who create and invest in the creation of such content. The international rise in digital music streaming has contributed greatly to the expansion of the value gap. This is largely because outdated laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States and other similar statutes around the globe contain safe harbor provisions that shield certain music-streaming services from copyright-infringement liability. Safe harbor protection provides these services with a powerful bargaining chip during licensing negotiations with music copyright holders. After exploring the origins of the value gap, this Note advocates for a two-step legislative solution to the problem. The first step involves revising the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty in a manner that obligates member states to comply by narrowing the scope of domestic safe harbor provisions. The second step recommends an alteration to the current music-licensing framework in an effort to ensure adequate remuneration for music rightsholders.

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