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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

By Mr. WYDEN:

S. 3609. A bill to adopt fair standards and procedures by which determinations of Copyright Royalty Judges are made with respect to webcasting, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I rise to introduce the Internet Radio Fairness Act. The goal of this proposal is to help one of America's oldest, most dynamic industries grow into the 21st Century. Thanks to new digital music technologies, the ways in which consumers can listen and buy music has been revolutionized.

Internet technology is even changing the music industry itself. The Net is freeing artists from the shackles of major record label middlemen by enabling artists to broadcast and sell directly to consumers. In fact, right now bands on independent labels are dominating the music charts. Artists like Amanda Palmer are leaving the record labels behind by instead reaching for success by embracing Internet platforms like Kickstarter to get her music heard.

I am a firm believer that further unleashing Internet technology will expand the music marketplace to better reward Internet innovation and musical artists.

The Internet has changed our lives. It is reshaping how people communicate, collaborate and engage in commerce. The Internet empowers the powerless, it gives everyone a voice, and it advances human rights and the cause of freedom around the world. The growth and evolution of the Internet comes from good, innovative ideas and from policy environments that protect the Net from unfair and discriminatory taxes, regulation, and legal liability.

Unfortunately, one area of the Internet ecosystem that is stifled is the digital services of broadcast music. In 1998 Federal laws were enacted to specifically thwart the development of Internet platforms that are commercially viable as broadcasters of digital music. Since then, concerns about online copyright infringement intensified, record sales plummeted, and many commercially successful musicians are struggling. Consumers and rightsholders are increasingly seeking innovative, new models that can better promote music and compensate artists. The Internet Radio Fairness Act intends to answer some of these calls.

Under current law royalty rates prescribed for Internet Radio are established based on what a panel of special copyright judges determine to be the market rate for musical licenses. But there is no functioning market for these licenses and these judges are left with very little information to make reasonable conclusions. That is why Congress routinely intervenes to correct the work of these judges. The current method these judges use to establish royalty rates for Internet Radio has led to webcasters paying five times the amount of royalties--as a percentage of revenue--as other digital music broadcasters, like satellite and cable. The long-established method that copyright judges use to determine royalty rates for satellite and cable providers enables a broader set of factors to be considered.

The Internet Radio Fairness Act would end the discrimination against the Internet and Internet Radio in the digital marketplace. It would treat Internet Radio, for purposes of establishing royalty rates, in the same way that satellite and cable radio are treated. It would enable the copyright judges the ability to consider factors they have long been familiar with to establish royalty rates for Internet Radio in the same way they have long done for other broadcasters.

Doing this can enable new Internet Radio startups to succeed and create jobs, foster competition, and the expansion of the music marketplace in part so that artists can obtain broader exposure and more compensation.

I hope to work with you, with stakeholders, and with my Senate colleagues to discuss this legislation and additional ideas that are necessary to unleash the power of the Internet to foster a broader, more dynamic marketplace for digital music.

By Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Mr. MERKLEY):

S. 3610. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to deny the inclusion of any antidumping or countervailing duties in the determination of the basis of any energy tax credit property; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I rise today to sponsor two important pieces of legislation. My colleagues in this body are all aware of the challenges that American manufacturers struggle with in the global market. A particular challenge faces producers of renewable energy technology. Not only do these producers compete against decades of government subsidies provided to the oil and gas industry, these manufacturers are increasingly competing against China's unfair trade practices.

As my colleagues know, the record is clear that China is cheating. China is illegally subsidizing their producers of solar and wind energy technology. China is enabling solar panels and wind energy property to be sold in the U.S. at below market value due to the government subsidies they are provided by China.

The Department of Commerce is investigating these practices. The Department has already found specific practices employed by China that are against international trade rules. As a result the government will soon assign antidumping and countervailing duties on solar panels, for example, as they have been determined by the Department of Commerce to be unfairly traded.

The first measure that I sponsored today is very simple. The Investment Tax Credit Integrity Act, S. 3610, would simply say for purposes of the tax credit that American buyers of solar panels and other qualifying renewable energy can claim, taxpayers cannot use the tax credit to offset the antidumping and countervailing duties that are assigned to this merchandise. As you know, the rate of these duties is designed to remedy the unfair trade that was exposed; it would be counterproductive to allow the Investment Tax Credit to undermine the purpose of these duties.

The second measure that I filed today, S. 3611, is equally important. The Buy Fairly Traded Goods Act says that federal agencies should not, with taxpayer money, buy merchandise, like Chinese subsidized solar panels, that are subject to U.S. duties assigned to remedy the unfair trade practices. Taxpayer money should not be used to buy property that the Department of Commerce has determined is unfairly traded and which is shown to harm U.S. manufacturers. This measure is written so there may be limited exceptions in the event of a national security issue, and it is crafted to comply with America's international trade obligations. Importantly, this bill also instructs federal agencies to use their contracting power to ensure that developers who are producing renewable energy for use by the federal government do not buy property for that purpose that is subject to trade remedies.

I am pleased that Senator MERKLEY has joined me in sponsoring these proposals. Mr. MERKLEY has a strong record for standing up for American businesses and the workers who are struggling during these difficult times due to the unscrupulous trade practices employed by the People's Republic of China.

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