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Congress Takes Aim At Radio Royalty Reform With Fair Play Fair Pay Act

WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — On Monday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Congressmen Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), with support of a coalition of industry stakeholders, introduced the legislation that would see musicians paid royalties when their music is played on commercial radio.

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015 would seek to end the long-standing practice of broadcast radio to play recorded music without being required to pay performance royalties. The bill would also take aim at the royalty rates paid by satellite radio.

“For decades, music services have gotten away with building their business on the backs of hardworking musicians, paying unfair rates — and in the case of the $17.5-billion radio industry, paying nothing at all — for the music they use,” said Michael Huppe, president and CEO of SoundExchange, an independent nonprofit performance rights organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties.

“The Fair Play, Fair Pay Act introduced today will bring much needed reform to the music industry and addresses many of the issues that plague the recorded music industry," Huppe said in a statement. "It is time that we properly pay the artists who put so much hard work into creating the music at the core of these services. If it weren’t for them, these stations would be broadcasting little more than static.”

Included in the legislation are provisions to:

  • Establish a sound recording performance royalty for AM/FM Radio.
  • Remove satellite radio’s 801(b) below-market rate exemption and use a willing buyer/willing seller standard.
  • Establish a sound recording performance royalty for AM/FM Radio.
  • For the purposes of royalties, treat pre-1972 sound recordings the same as those sound recordings made after February of 1972.
  • Broadcast radio trade association The Natioanl Broadcasters Association says it intends to fight the passage of the bill, claiming that it would have a negative economic ramifications for their business.

    “NAB will strongly oppose the legislation reportedly being introduced by Rep. Nadler on Monday,” NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said in a statement. “It is disappointing that this bill retreads years-old policy positions rather than advancing the copyright dialogue through policies that help grow the entire music ecosystem."

    "A little over three months into the new Congress, 147 House Members and 11 Senators already agree that the fees proposed by Rep. Nadler would kill jobs, hurt artist promotion and devastate local economies across America,” said a spokesperson for the NAB in a press statement. – Staff Writers