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.
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
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, 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. Among other things, the bill would establish a public performance right for terrestrial radio, enabling musicians and sound recording owners to collect royalties when their music is played on AM/FM radio.
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
Rumors are flying around about the US Department of Justice (DOJ) potentially changing the rules that govern how performing rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI negotiate, collect and distribute publisher and songwriter royalties. read more
Have you ever used ASCAP’s ACE Title Search? We did, just the other day. A friend was trying to contact the publishers of an almost-but-not-quite public domain ditty to obtain permission to use the work in an original stage play. Unsurprisingly, he had no idea where to go to find this information. We cruised over to the ASCAP site and entered in the song title. It didn’t take long to find a match, and more importantly, the work had publisher contact information. Victory!
If only it were that easy across the board. read more
Post co-authored by FMC policy intern Bryce Cashman
A new bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives that we hope will have a positive impact on the music community. On March 19, 2015, Reps. Joe Crowley(D-NY) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced the Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP, H.R. 1457)—legislation that would make it easier for producers to receive a percentage of digital performance royalties. read more
Since May 2013, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet has undertaken a comprehensive review of the entire Copyright Act, including many issues of importance to musicians and songwriters. But the Act is not the only regulatory structure that impacts how creators are compensated.
It’s pretty weird when you think about it: when you hear “I Will Always Love You” performed by Whitney Houston on AM/FM radio in the US, neither the Houston estate nor her label get paid. But songwriter Dolly Parton does receive compensation, along with her publisher. We love Dolly a ton, but this seems unfair. That’s because it is.
Things look much different in the rest of the world, where performers, labels, songwriters and publishers ALL get paid for radio play. Consider how certain genres of music—like jazz and r&b—are powered by performances. “Respect,” belted out by Aretha Franklin. “My Favorite Things” as interpreted by the great John Coltrane. Yet due to a weird loophole in US law that exempts radio stations from paying performers or labels, countless American artists have been unable to collect money owed to them for airplay here and abroad. The problem is particularly acute for performers who aren’t in a position to tour, such as older, so-called “legacy” artists. When it comes down to it, the lack of a public performance right for over-the-air broadcasting amounts to the government giving away music to the rest of the world for free.