A bill before Congress would for the first time require radio broadcasters to pay royalty fees to recording artists and record labels pursuant to the Copyright Act. The proposed Fair Play Fair Pay Act (H.R. 1733) would “[make] sure that all radio services play by the same rules, and all artists are fairly compensated,” according to Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
… 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 …
The bill would still allow for different fees for AM/FM radio, satellite radio and Internet radio, but it would mandate a “minimum fee” for each type of service for the first time.
A February report from the U.S. Copyright Office cites the promotional value of airtime as the longstanding justification for exempting terrestrial radio broadcasters from paying royalties under the Copyright Act.
In the traditional view of the market, broadcasters and labels representing copyright owners enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship whereby terrestrial radio stations exploit sound recordings to attract the listener pools that generate advertising dollars, and, in return, sound recording owners receive exposure that promotes record and other sales.
The Copyright Office now feels there are “significant questions” whether the traditional view remains credible today. But significant questions are not the same thing as clear evidence.
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