On Tuesday, August 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing called "The Performance Rights Act and Parity Among Music Delivery Platforms."
The Performance Rights Act would remove an exemption allowing terrestrial radio broadcasters to play music without compensating performing artists and sound copyright owners (usually the labels). Currently, if you hear Aretha Franklin's famous version of Otis Redding's "Respect" on an over-the-air radio broadcasts, only Redding (and his publisher) are compensated — Aretha receives no royalty for her classic performance. Yet if you hear the same song broadcast digitally (webcasts, satellite radio or on those non-video music channels at the high end of your cable dial), both artists are paid — Otis (and publisher) for the underlying composition and Aretha (and label) the performance.
FMC has long supported a Public Performance Right for terrestrial radio for a number of reasons — foremost because it would compensate performing artists who breathe life into compositions. It would also remove the unfair advantage terrestrial radio has over emerging broadcast technologies. Equally important, it would allow US performing artists to collect for overseas terrestrial broadcasts of their work (almost every developed nation on the planet has a public performance right — notable exceptions include the US, Iran and North Korea).
Tuesday's hearing will feature testimony from NAB Joint Board Chair and Commonwealth Broadcasting President/CEO Steve Newberry, recording artist Sheila E, speaking on behalf National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters Executive
Director Jim Winston, Rounder Records owner Marian Leighton-Levy,
RealNetworks Executive VP Bob Kimball, and Ralph Oman, an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School.
FMC will be at the hearing and will tweet about it and report back at FutureBlog. In the meantime, you can learn up on the Public Performance Right with our fact sheet and previous postings on the issue.