Reps. Nadler and Blackburn Introduce the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015

Apr 13, 2015 Issues: Jobs, Labor and the Economy

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, and Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Vice Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, that would harmonize and modernize the outdated rules that currently govern music licensing for digital and terrestrial radio broadcasts. They were joined in announcing the legislation by the musicFIRST Coalition, which was founded by a broad spectrum of organizations representing musicians, recording artists, managers, music businesses and performance right advocates. The bill is cosponsored by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), a senior Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. Roseanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Gloria Gaynor, Cyndi Lauper, and Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the last surviving member of the Four Tops, and numerous other artists joined the Members of Congress in announcing the new legislation.

"The current system is antiquated and broken. It pits technologies against each other, and allows certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists. For decades, AM/FM radio has used whatever music it wants without paying a cent to the musicians, vocalists, and labels that created it. Satellite radio has paid below market royalties for the music it uses, growing into a multibillion dollar business on the back of an illogical ‘grandfathered’ royalty standard that is now almost two decades old,” said Congressman Nadler.

“Artists, musicians, producers and radio services alike deserve better. The Fair Play Fair Pay Act fixes this broken and unjust system by making sure all radio services play by the same rules, and all artists are fairly compensated,” Congressman Nadler continued.

“I’m honored to be working with Congressman Nadler on this important bill. Many music creators struggle to make ends meet even when they write a hit song because of a quirk in the copyright law," said Congressman Marsha Blackburn. "The Fair Play Fair Pay Act will ensure that the intellectual property of artists can no longer be exploited by Big Radio without compensation. All radio platforms should be treated the same when they use music to draw in listeners and earn billions in revenue. The playing field needs to be leveled and this is long overdue.”

“Profiting from someone else’s labor and not paying is simply unfair. The failure to adequately pay artists and musicians is particularly harmful to communities like Detroit, which has so many legacy artists who should be compensated fairly for their groundbreaking contributions to the industry. I am happy to support this bill because it provides long overdue fairness for artists regardless of when their music is recorded or where its played,” said Congressman John Conyers, Jr.

“Fair market value for music will encourage creativity by music creators,"said Ted Kalo, Executive Director of the musicFIRST coalition. "It will promote innovation among music services. And – most importantly – it will give fans the best music they have ever heard – delivered in the most exciting ways they could ever imagine."

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act would:

- Create a terrestrial performance right so that AM/FM radio competes on equal footing with its Internet and satellite competitors who already pay performance royalties. This would resolve the decades old struggle for performance rights and ensure that – for the first time –
music creators would have the right to fair pay when their performances are broadcast on AM/FM radio.

- Bring true platform parity to radio – so that all forms of radio, regardless of the technology they use – pay fair market value for music performances. This levels the playing field and ends the unfair and illogical distortions caused by the different royalty standards that exist today.

- Ensure terrestrial royalties are affordable capping royalties for stations with less than $1 million in annual revenue at $500 per year (and at $100 a year for non-commercial stations), while protecting religious and incidental uses of music from having to pay any royalties at all.

- Make a clear statement that pre-1972 recordings have value and those who are profiting from them must pay appropriate royalties for their use, while we closely monitor the litigation developments on this issue.

- Protect songwriters and publishers by clearly stating that nothing in this bill can be used to lower songwriting royalties.

- Codify industry practices streamlining the allocation of royalty payments to music producers.

- Ensure that artists receive their fair share from direct licensing of all performances eligible for the statutory license.

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