Royalty bills include exceptions


Patrick Leahy says that the performance royalty he and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are pushing will have minimal affect on most radio operators in the US. In fact, over 75% will be capped at a maximum $5K blanket license as long as they stay under revenue benchmarks. And non-profits will be capped at $1K.

“In introducing the Performance Rights Act, we are sensitive to the needs of broadcast radio stations,” said Leahy.  “I want to ensure that the performing artist, the one whose sound recordings drive the success of broadcast radio, is compensated fairly.” 

In a statement, RIAA said, “The Performance Rights Act will close an archaic provision of America’s copyright law that allows AM and FM radio stations to earn $16 billion a year in advertising revenue without compensating the artists and musicians who bring music to life and listeners’ ears to the radio dial. AM and FM radio is the only music platform that does not pay a fair performance right to artists and musicians for the use of their work.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Again, we will put aside arguments against this bill for the moment. Let’s look at what Leahy and RIAA said – it’s all about compensating “artists” and “musicians.” Fine. Then let’s add a clause to the bill. It will read something like this:

“Sec. 6. An independent third party, with no connection to either the broadcasting or recording industries, will see to it that all of the royalties collected from radio stations go directly to the performing artists.”

We suspect that groups like AFTRA, the American Federation of Musicians, the Future of Music Coalition, musicFirst and other such organizations will eagerly endorse this clause. But RIAA’s support will no doubt disappear faster than an Eddie Van Halen guitar lick.