As Congress prepares for a week-long break at the end of May, it’s a good time to review some recent developments. Last month, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) reintroduced their Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act (PRMA), which was originally introduced in May 2014. The bill’s main focus is ensuring that performers and record labels receive compensation for over-the-air play on AM/FM radio, something FMC has supported for over a decade. Currently a loophole in U.S. copyright law allows AM/FM radio broadcasters to circumvent the payment of royalties, while digital radio is still bound to pay everyone from performers and record labels to songwriters and publishers.
If you’ve ever negotiated with bandmates about where to eat after a gig, you know that musicians can have strong—and sometimes divergent—opinions about a lot of different things. Expand that to the broader music community—which includes independent and major record labels, managers, advocacy groups, artist unions and fans—and it gets even more complex. (Are we still talking about grub? Kinda getting hungry ourselves.)read more
Yesterday, news broke that performance rights organization ASCAP lost its appeal of a decision by a federal judge to keep webcasting rates at 1.85 percent. The ruling also affirmed an earlier decision that publishers are not allowed to “partially withdraw” digital rights from ASCAP. This decision only applies to public performances of musical works on non-interactive (or “radio-like” services such as Pandora. (For more information on how all of this works, check out our ASCAP and BMI consent decrees fact sheet.) read more
by Kevin Erickson, Communications & Outreach Manager
Max Weber once described politics as “the slow boring of hard boards”; those with less patience for poetry might just call it slow, boring, and hard.
Nonetheless, I’ve found that the music community is actually uniquely equipped with the kind of long-game thinking that it takes to make substantive policy changes. That’s because there’s a basic structural similarity between the kind of slow and steady work it takes to hone your craft as a composer or performer over many years, keeping your eyes on what opportunities and challenges lie around the corner while working to address your present needs, and the slow and steady process of building movements for justice. Making an impact in either policy or music often requires the same kind of passion and perspective.
Today brings news of a new coalition that has come together to advance specific perspectives around music licensing reform. The MIC Coalition is comprised of such companies and organizations as Amazon, NPR, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Hotel and Lodging Association, Google, the National Restaurant Association, Pandora, Digital Media Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, iHeartMedia and others. read more
WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Comcast officially confirmed its decision to walk away from its 45-billion dollar deal to acquire Time Warner Cable. This merger was widely criticized by creators and consumers alike, and had previously been greeted with skepticism by the USDepartment of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC). read more
[UPDATE: Numerous media outlets—including the New York Times—are now reporting that Comcast is walking away from its 45 billion dollar plan to acquire Time Warner Cable.]
Cable giant Comcast seemingly has it all: ownership of a major content studio (NBC Universal), the biggest slice of the cable and broadband market and an army of lobbyists and lawyers ready to press their advantage at the state and federal level.
But sometimes even MegaComcast has a bad week. read more
February 13, 2015 marked another milestone for free expression and compeition online, as the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new rules on net neutrality were officially published in the Federal Register, after being adopted in a 3/2 vote by the FCC on February 26. Despite widespread public support for these policies including countless musicians and a strong majority of the 4 million comments submitted, net neutrality opponents in congress haven’t given up without a fight, with ISPs introducing lawsuits in the courts and some in congress introucing measures to slow or block the new rules, resulting in the five grueling congressional hearings at which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered a forceful defense of his proposed rules.
The most recent attempt to stop net neutrality also landed on April 13, as Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced a new resolution in the house, calling for an expedited review of the FCC’s recently proposed net neutrality rules. In effect, the resolution seeks to enact a fast-tract repeal the FCC’s proposed rule—known now as the Open Internet Order—which requires internet service providers (ISPs) to afford consumers open and accessible networks, free from content-based discrimination, and reclassifies broadband internet service under a “common carrier” framework. These rules, based in Title II of the Communications Act, are important for all musicians and independent labels alike who rely on the internet as a level playing field to reach audiences and promote their work.
On Monday, April 13, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN.), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI.), and Ted Deutch (D-FL.) introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015—a bill that, if passed, would accomplish a handful of things. The centerpiece of the legislation is the establishment of a public performance right for AM/FM radio. This would mean that performers and labels would be able to receive compensation for terrestrial radio airplay, a right that already exists in the rest of the developed world. read more