House panel set to take up internet royalties


U.S. CongressThe House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet is ready to look at music licensing, and Internet Royalty Fairness Act sponsor Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) tweeted that his bill would be on the agenda.

As yet details on the event are sparse. Clearly, however, it is only the beginning of the process, judging by the title it has been given: “Music Licensing Part One: Legislation in the 112th Congress.”

The title also leaves open the possibility of discussing the competing bill from Jerold Nadler (D-NY).

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 11/28/12 at 11:30 AM.

Chaffetz’s bill would bring the royalty structure for internet portals into alignment with those pertaining to satellite and cable audio services. Musician groups see this as bringing parity to the digital music world by lowering the amount of money paid to them and have vociferously opposed the Chaffetz bill.

Those broadcasters who have weighed in on the Chaffetz bill have supported it. The most obvious beneficiary of the bill is Pandora and other similar internet services, but it would also benefit radio stations that stream music on their websites.

The Nadler bill would work toward creating a performance royalty for broadcast airplay. It was introduced after word of the Chaffetz bill was out, and in recent weeks the Chaffetz bill has been getting virtually all of the attention.

RBR-TVBR observation: We knew there had to be some fire creating all the smoke that’s been blowing around on this topic. However, we would have to guess that there is no intent to get anything concrete done this year – the Part One in the title implies a Part Two, and we’re talking the subcommittee level. After the subcommittee is through with it, the full committee would have to get a shot, and companion activity would have to move through the Senate.

Look for the heavy lifting on IRFA and other related legislation to take place in 2013.