Performance royalties about to hit the Hill


A bipartisan posse of Reps led by Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI) is putting the Performance Rights Act back in play in the House, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is expected to follow suit in the Senate. Conyers is being aided and abetted by Howard Berman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Paul Hodes (D-NH).

AFTRA has just come out in support of the measure, and takes the opportunity to thank other members of the House, including Jane Harman (D-CA), John Shadegg (R-AZ), and adds thanks you to a number of other senators, including Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
The real force behind the move is RIAA. It would be in addition to composer royalties already routinely collected from broadcasters. NAB has characterized the performance royalty effort as a tax on radio, however, which fails to recognize the promotional value of airplay.

And NAB issued a strong objection to the bill. David K. Rehr summed it up in a letter to legislators, writing, “Local radio broadcasters consider this fee a ‘performance tax’ that will not only harm your local radio stations, but will threaten new artists trying to break into the business as well as your constituents who rely on local radio. Although the proponents of H.R. 848 claim this bill is about compensating artists, in actuality at least half of this fee will go directly into the pockets of the big record labels, funneling billions of dollars to companies based overseas.” He concluded, “Although the big record labels have seen their revenues decline over the last decade, local radio broadcasters are not the reason the recording industry is losing money, and it should not be the industry to fix it."

RBR/TVBR observation: We’ve commented on many aspects of this morally-bankrupt money grab from the international recording conglomerate. And we will again. For now, suffice it to say that the legislators who approve of this measure are heavily represented on the respective Judiciary committees, so the Act is expected to survive committee vetting. It is expected to face a stiffer fight on the floors of each wing of Congress.