Don Henley Goes After 'Big Tech' In Argument For Changes To Copyright Law

Don Henley testified before Congress Tuesday, urging lawmakers to revamp outdated music copyright laws.

The Eagles co-founder said he was speaking out on behalf of musicians who had been negatively affected by regulations that favor digital services, like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

"I want to change or improve outdated laws and regulations that have been abused for over 20 years by big tech," Henley told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property.

Henley, who was speaking to the lawmakers via video call, noted that he was speaking in spite of the music industry's widely observed #BlackOutTuesday campaign. While he supports the campaign for racial equality, he noted that his testimony was too important to reschedule.

"But I come here out of a sense of duty and obligation to those artists and those creators who paved the road for me and my contemporaries and for those who will travel this road after us."

He asserted that big tech companies continue to thrive based on models that, in part, take advantage of "rampant infringement that occurs" on their platforms on a daily basis.

While Henley has enjoyed his status as one of the most successful songwriters in history, he said most musicians are being robbed of their ability to make ends meet because of current ineffectual copyright law.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made this all the more evident, he added.

"I am speaking out for the songwriters and recording artists who are struggling to make a living, particularly now when our industry has been decimated by the pandemic. We need equitable compensation for the rights guaranteed to authors under the constitution."

Subcommittee Chair Senator Thom Tills hopes to have a reform bill drafted by December.

Support for copyright law reform has been gaining steam for several years. The issue was brought to the fore last year when lawyers resumed arguments over Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

Photo: Getty Images

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