Performance Rights Act Reintroduced in Congress

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Washington - Feb 4, 2009 - Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-MI), and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jane Harman (D-CA), John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Paul Hodes (D-NH), and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have sponsored the reissued Performance Rights Act. Supporters of the bill say that this legislation will close a century-old loophole in the U.S. Copyright Act ensuring that broadcast radio compensates all artists for playing their music on AM and FM radio stations. AFTRA and the Music First Coalition support the bill.

The bill supporters say that terrestrial radio pays nothing to the artists to play music over the air, while satellite radio, cable radio and Web radio pay the royalties. Senators Leahy and Hatch and Representatives Berman and Issa first introduced the legislation in December 2007.

Most broadcasters and the NAB oppose the legislation saying that playing music on the air is a partnership with the musicians. Peter Smyth, chairman and CEO of Greater Media, in his monthly column says that the performance royalty will benefit the record companies and not the artists themselves.

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