RIAA still working Congress on radio royalty


The record labels are still on the hunt for enough support in Congress to get a performance royalty bill passed, although it seems it was less a priority this year than last, thanks to focus on piracy issues.

According to the Associated Press, the RIAA spent $1.13M in Q3 2011 pushing its views before members of Congress. The main focus was said to be legislation aimed at preventing foreign internet sites from pirating content generated in the US.

The industry organization is still trying to get legislation along the lines of the Performance Rights Act on the table, but AP notes the issue has gone to very low-priority status in Congress this year, after generating considerable heat in prior sessions of Congress.

The organization will continue have issues before it other than PRA going forward, in particular, the proposed acquisition of EMI by Universal Music Group and other related deals.

RBR-TVBR observation: Record labels and the NAB had a tentative deal in place that would have opened the door to a performance royalty in exchange for an FM radio presence on mobile devices, but when NAB proposed graduating the size of the royalty in scale with the adoption of mobile FM, the labels back out.

Although the NAB move kicked off a spirited debate among the members of the radio community, it did appear to take the steam out of the Performance Rights Act and its passage through Congress. Many legislators would rather that disputes between different business interests be worked out without legislative intervention, and the NAB’s demonstration that it would horse trade rather than stonewall received much of the credit in some quarters.

Whether that is what happened or not, the fact remains that the issue was a non-starter throughout the 2011 legislative year. Which is not to say it won’t have a return engagement beginning at any of the commerce or judiciary committees in 2012 – there is nothing to suggest that the issue has lost its zombie status and will lurch back onto the agenda at any time. Obviously RIAA is still expending effort to keep that possibility alive.