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Rosanne Cash Testifying Before Congress

Rosanne Cash
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Rosanne Cash is heading to Washington, D.C. Wednesday (June 25) to testify before Congress regarding the issue of illegal music downloading and music licensing.

The songstress, who is appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, will be sharing her concerns along with the Americana Music Association’s executive director, Jed Hilly.

“I am honored to have been asked by the Americana Music Association to represent musicians, songwriters and recording artists in these hearings,” she says in a prepared statement. “As a singer-songwriter who has been in the music business for 35 years, I look forward to sharing with Washington leaders some of the deep concerns all musicians share in the new digital economy. Creative people deserve fair compensation when their work is used by others.”

The daughter of the late Johnny Cash is carrying on a legacy inspired by the Man in Black.

“My father, Johnny Cash, testified before this committee in 1997 in support of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” she continues. “He told the committee then how challenging and dispiriting it was to find one of his biggest hits, ‘Ring of Fire’, being sold by someone in Slovenia on an illegal website and that he hoped the DMCA would aid in solving that. What an innocent time that was. Isolated illegal websites have morphed into a multi-­‐national juggernaut that threatens to decimate the livelihoods of all musicians, songwriters and performers. There is a team at my record label devoted to issuing takedown notices to pirate sites. It is an absolutely futile gesture. The most popular search engines list pirate sites on the opening page of a search.”

It’s an issue that feels very personal to the 59-year-old.

“Violinist Pablo Casals, one of the greatest musicians ever to live, said ‘Music will save the world,’” she notes. “I believe that with all my heart. Where there are great differences among people, where misunderstanding and conflict are entrenched and seem impenetrable, there is a commonality, a language we all understand that resonates outside the arena of dispute and bitterness, outside linear time, a language that creates community and joy, and that is beyond words: Music.”

Cash released her latest album, ‘The River & the Thread,’ earlier this year, which she says made her all the more aware of the escalating problem.

“That’s a big, big, big subject about how low record sales are, and streaming and piracy, and what that does to musicians, and how are we going to survive, and how is the record industry going to survive — that’s a long conversation,” she tells The Boot.

“Obviously this is the future, and it’s not gonna change, but as far as content providers, there’s this danger that content providers — music and writing — that we become this servant class that provides content for a pittance,” she adds with a laugh. “And people who wouldn’t think of stealing an apple in a grocery store will happily steal an album online without thinking of the ramifications of that. And I know a lot of musicians feel really de-valued, and I know young musicians who’ve had to get other jobs, who couldn’t survive. It’s heartbreaking, it’s just heartbreaking.”

Read Cash’s prepared statement here. Purchase ‘The River & the Thread’ here.

Next: Go Behind the Scenes With Rosanne Cash

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