Friday, March 31, 2017

Bill To Force Radio To Pay For Performances Reintroduced

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act, legislation that would require broadcasters to pay artists and record labels when their songs are played over the air on the radio, was reintroduced on Thursday.

The Tennessean reports the bill is offered up on the eve of a possible broader copyright reform proposal from the House. Music industry stakeholders are hopeful that reform includes a performance royalty for terrestrial radio, because the United States is regarded as the only advanced country in the world that does not pay royalties to artists and labels to broadcast their songs.

Broadcasters are opposed to the bill and have successfully staved off past efforts to create a radio performance royalty. U.S. copyright law pays songwriters and their publishers when songs are played over the radio, but unlike streaming or other forms of consumption, artists are left out.

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act has support from both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Jerold Nadler
Broadcasters have pushed back ferociously about a government-mandated performance royalty for AM/FM radio. The National Association of Broadcasters has introduced memorializing resolutions opposing the creation of the royalty, and that resolution has garnered wide support. The most recent version of that resolution has support of at least 165 House members and 21 Senators.

Broadcasters argue that labels and artists are getting free promotional value when their songs are played on the radio.

"NAB respectfully opposes the legislation reintroduced by Rep. (Jerold) Nadler that would impose a job-killing performance royalty on America's hometown radio stations," NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said. "NAB remains committed to working with Congress on balanced music licensing proposals that help grow the entire music ecosystem, promote innovation, and recognize the benefit of our free locally-focused platform to both artists and listeners."

One historical criticism of proposal is that new performance royalty payouts would especially hurt smaller radio stations. In response, the newly introduced bill would cap total royalty payouts for stations with less than $1 million annual revenue at $500.

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