U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have announced their co-sponsorship of the Performance Rights Act, legislation to alter copyright tax law to compensate songwriters and musicians when their work is played on the radio. The bill has been reintroduced in the 111th Congress.
“There are thousands of musicians living in the Nashville area who perform the songs we all love and sing along with,” Alexander said. “These artists deserve their fair share and this legislation will help them get the appropriate compensation they work so hard to earn.”
“It’s easy to take for granted that we can turn a knob, hit a button, or click a mouse and hear our favorite songs and forget the many songwriters, performers, and various businesses that go into creating the music we enjoy,” Corker said. “This bill would ensure fair royalty payments for recording artists and simplify the licensing process for broadcasters while also respecting the important role played by small commercial stations, public broadcasters, talk radio and religious-based content to the broadcasting industry. I look forward to working with Senator Alexander and the other bill sponsors as we advocate for consideration of this legislation in the 111th Congress.”
The Performance Rights Act (S. 379) would end an exemption benefiting traditional, over-the-air broadcasters, which are not required to pay recording artists for use of their work, as webcasters, satellite radio providers and cable companies do. It includes specific provisions to:
• Enable over-the-air broadcast stations to use a statutory license and make one payment annually under a rate set through negotiations or by the Copyright Royalty Board for all the music they play, instead of having to negotiate with every copyright owner for each use of music.
• Accommodate small broadcasters and others to assure balance and fairness to broadcasters and artists. More than 75 percent of all commercial radio stations and more than 80 percent of all religious stations would be covered through the planned accommodation.
o Small commercial stations would pay only $5,000 per year;
o Non-commercial stations such as NPR and college radio stations would pay only $1,000 per year;
o Stations that make only incidental uses of music, such as “talk radio” stations, would not pay for that music; and
o Religious services that are broadcast on radio would be completely exempt.
• Clarify existing law to make clear that a new right for recording artists and owners cannot adversely affect the rights of, or royalties payable to, songwriters or musical work copyright owners.
The bipartisan bill is sponsored in the Senate by Alexander and Corker as well as Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).