HATCH INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO GIVE FAIR COMPENSATION TO MUSICAL ARTISTS
Leahy, Hatch, Berman, and Issa Form Bipartisan, Bicameral Coalition to Balance Performance Issues
Leading members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees Tuesday introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to end an exemption benefiting traditional, over-the-air broadcasters and ensure that performing artists are compensated when their sound recordings are used. Webcasters, satellite radio providers and cable companies compensate artists for use of their sound recordings, but conventional radio stations do not.
Legislation was introduced in the Senate by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a senior member and former chairman of the panel, and in the House by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, and House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, are also co-sponsors of the measures. The introduction of the bipartisan legislation follows hearings in both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees earlier this year to discuss performance rights for artists.
The bills would end the broadcaster exemption, and provide that artists be paid for use of their sound recordings. Both bills would also provide relief from rates agreed to for use of the sound recordings for noncommercial radio stations, including public, educational, and religious stations, by giving those stations the option of a nominal, annual flat fee. The bills provide similar relief for commercial stations whose annual revenue is under $1.25 million, roughly 77 percent of all music radio stations. Finally, the bill ensures that the public performance rights of songwriters or copyright owners of musical works are not harmed.
"Radio stations pay songwriters for the right to broadcast the music they have composed. The work of songwriters is promoted by the air play, but no one seriously questions the right of the songwriter to be paid for the use of his or her work. But the performing artist is not paid by the radio station," said Leahy. "The time has come to end this inequity. I want to ensure that the performing artist, the one whose sound recordings drive the success of broadcast radio, is fairly compensated."
"There is a symbiotic relationship between musicians and broadcasters," said Hatch. "You can't have one without the other, and both make significant contributions to our culture and economy. We need to recognize performance rights, and we want to ensure this legislation is fair to both the broadcasters and the artists."
"With introduction of this bill, we have taken the first step to provide artists, musicians, and labels with compensation for their contribution to the music we hear over the radio," said Berman. "It's only fair that we work toward parity for the different technology platforms that deliver that music, but we still have a long road ahead of us. We have only started the lengthy process of addressing songwriter concerns, broadcaster issues and greater parity."
"The right of performing artists to make a living off the use of their creativity and innovation should be protected," said Issa. "As the music industry continues to change, it is time that all radio pays performing artists for the use of their intellectual property."
"Today we take the first step toward finally giving artists and musicians their fair due," said Conyers. "They are the people who bring the music to life and should no longer be overlooked. My decision to take a leading role to remedy this inequity in no way alters my commitment to working with the songwriters to ensure that their rights and compensation are protected."
The Senate and House Judiciary Committees are expected to consider the legislation next year.