Performance Rights Act Currently Under Negotiations; Local Radio Freedom Act Gaining Steam

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the Performance Rights Act, a bill that critics say will hurt terrestrial, non-commercial radio stations. The bill primarily aims to (1) amend the Copyright Act by granting equal rights to musicians when receiving compensation from terrestrial broadcasters, and (2) establish a flat rate for non-commercial and public terrestrial stations that make less than $1.25 million a year. Essentially, the bill wants to place the same enforcement on terrestrial radio that already exists on internet and satellite radio. (If you're interested you can keep track of the bill at the excellent OpenCongress.)

Interestingly, the Bush administration, according to FMQB reports, have given their nod of approval to the bill in a letter written by Lilly Fu Claffee, general counsel of Department of Commerce. The letter states:

The [Department of Commerce] believes that the changes contained in the legislation [H.R. 4789, the Performance Rights Act] are justified as a matter of fairness and equity. Granting copyright owners of sound recordings a full performance right coupled with extending an existing statutory license is an appropriate and workable approach to providing compensation to recording artists and record labels for the transmission of their works by over-the-air broadcast stations.

While artists will ostensibly be getting compensation for their work, some of the provisions in this bill are seen as severely flawed and in need of serious revisions before passing. In fact, FMQB is also reporting that the Local Radio Freedom Act, which "takes a stand against the proposed new royalty rates for terrestrial radio," only needs three more representatives to attain house majority. We'll keep you updated.

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