Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pre-1972 Hits: Lawmakers Introduce The Classics Act

Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation H.R. 3301, the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act (the CLASSICS Act) closes a loophole in current law.

Billboard reports it requires digital radio services to compensate legacy (pre-1972) artists who gave the world jazz, Motown and rock 'n roll. Current law allows many platforms to take this music while paying nothing to artists. The CLASSICS Act fixes that, according to a story by Michael Huppe.

He also mentions two other recent bills.

According to Huppe, one would stop the free ride the $17 billion broadcast radio industry has enjoyed on the backs of America’s creators. The Performance Royalty Owners of Music Opportunity To Earn Act of 2017 (PROMOTE Act), H.R. 1914, introduced by Rep. Issa and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) would stop broadcast radio from taking the products of hard-working creators without securing permission to use their music.

On another front, the AMP Act, introduced by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in February, would give music producers the statutory right to receive compensation for the recordings they produce through the letter of direction process. The legislation would put in place a consistent process to allow producers to collect the royalties they are due – a process that SoundExchange already honors voluntarily.

According to Billboard, these seemingly stand-alone legislative efforts all orbit around the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017 (H.R. 1836). Introduced by Rep. Issa and Rep. Nadler, this comprehensive bill aims simply to level the playing field for everyone.

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act proposes reform across many different issues, including the changes outlined in The CLASSICS Act (H.R. 3301). It would require all outlets to pay fair royalties for all music. AM/FM radio broadcasters would be obligated to pay for the music they use, just like Pandora and SiriusXM. Pre-1972 recordings would receive compensation when they are played on digital radio, just like the newer releases. And the Act would also end the special below-market royalty rate paid by just a few “grandfathered” services, forcing them to pay fair market rates just like thousands of their competitors.

In April,  the NAB issued the following statement about such legislation.

“NAB has significant concerns with this legislation that would upend the music licensing framework that currently enables broadcasters to serve local communities across the country, and would result in less music being played on the radio to the detriment of listeners and artists. NAB thanks the almost 200 Members of Congress who support the Local Radio Freedom Act and recognize the tremendous benefits of free, promotional airplay for musicians and labels."

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