Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Bill Would Increase Royalty Payments

Rep. Doug Collins
Federal legislation introduced on Tuesday would help increase royalty payments to songwriters and publishers, likely adding another layer to the ongoing conversation in Congress about broader copyright reform.

According to The Tennessean, the Songwriters Equity Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, has the backing of the songwriting and publishing community, including the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music Inc. and SESAC.

The legislation would allow federal rate courts to consider the fair market value for a composition when establishing digital performance rates. Currently, fair market value is not one of the guidelines that the special federal court considers when it sets royalty rates.

Most publishing licenses are compulsory and therefore regulated by federally determined rates, instead of through free-market negotiation.

But songwriters and publishers have found success negotiating licensing deals for television and film that have resulted in more favorable rates than those paid out when a digital copy of their song is sold. Currently, the rate court doesn’t factor in these licensing fees when it sets digital performance rates, but Collins’ legislation would allow them to do so.

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In response to the introduction of legislation Wednesday to increase the rates that songwriters are paid when their music is played on local radio stations and other platforms, NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton stated:

"NAB respectfully opposes this legislation, which could impose new costs on broadcasters that jeopardize the future of our free locally-focused service. While this legislation raises important issues about the changes confronting the songwriter community, NAB objects to changes in law that would deal with the financial imbalance between songwriters and artists by subjecting free broadcast radio stations to new fees."

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