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February 5th, 2018 1:47 pm
Music Industry Fairness – 2018 Offers a Perfect Opportunity for Reform
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We at CFIF have long advocated greater fairness for musical performers in securing fairness for their performance rights.

Under byzantine laws, artists receive just compensation whenever their post-1972 recordings are played, but in many cases not for their pre-1972 recordings.  That’s an indefensible and arbitrary artifact that has persisted far too long.  Why should Neil Diamond receive payment whenever “America” is played, but not classics like “Solitary Man?”

Fortunately, the opportunity to correct that unfairness has arrived.  Even better, legislation to correct the existing flawed system arrives alongside other music legislation that galvanizes the coalition to finally correct the situation.  As a result, a broad coalition of music organizations representing everyone from songwriters, composers, performers, publishers and labels support three new pieces of legislation, as summarized cogently by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA):

The Music Modernization Act would be the most significant update to music copyright law in over a generation, and represents unprecedented compromise across all aspects of the music industry.  The bill reforms Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions – like those used in interactive streaming models offered by Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Google and others.  It also repeals Section 114(i) and, consistent with most federal litigation, utilizes random assignment of judges to decide ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases – two provisions that will enable fairer outcomes for songwriters and composers.

The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) would benefit artists and music creators who recorded music before 1972 by establishing royalty payments whenever their music is played on digital radio.  SoundExchange would distribute royalties for pre-1972 recordings played by Internet, cable and satellite radio services just as it does for post-1972 recordings.  Currently, only sound recordings made after 1972 receive payments from digital radio services under federal law.

The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act) for the first time adds producers and engineers, who play an indispensable role in the creation of sound recordings, to U.S. copyright law.  The bill codifies into law the producer’s right to collect digital royalties and provides a consistent, permanent process for studio professionals to receive royalties for their contributions to the creation of music.”

Unfairness has persisted too long in America’s system of compensating musicians for performance of their songs.  The emerging coalition coalescing around these key pieces of legislation, which CFIF strongly urges all members of the House and Senate to support, and the White House to sign, allow a unified effort to finally bring reform in 2018.

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