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Administration Reiterates Support for Radio Performance Royalty

Recommendation is part of Internet Task Force report released by Department of Commerce

The Obama administration has reiterated its support for a performance royalty for radio. That, in turn, bolsters the lobbying efforts of the music industry, record labels and artists.

The performance royalty discussion is part of a report released this week by the Internet Task Force of the Department of Commerce titled “Copyright Policy, Creativity and Innovation in the Digital Economy.”

“There cannot be meaningful protection without enforcement of rights,” says Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker in the document, in which the authors note that digital technologies have had a “profound effect” on how copyrighted works are delivered to the public.

The task force urges Congress to “better rationalize the public performance right for sound recordings. We reiterate the administration’s support for extending the right to cover broadcasting, and urge that any reassessment of the appropriateness of different rate-setting standards for different types of digital music services take into account the impact on creators and right holders as well as on different types of services.”

The document authors say the broadcast radio omission has had a “real impact” on payments from performers and label owners from abroad.

The task force will seek public comment on some of its conclusions.

In response to the report, SoundExchange President/CEO Michael Huppe said “We are glad to see the task force adding to the growing chorus of policy makers in recommending that we fix the unfair lack of a full broadcast performance right for American creators.” SoundExchange also agrees with the authors that developing reliable, authoritative databases for maintaining and tracking copyright information is “critical,” noting that “metadata is the oil of the digital economy.”

Meanwhile, NAB has said adding another royalty fee to stations would be like paying twice and instead favors broadcasters working out private, individual deals with the labels. It’s been lobbying members of Congress to sign on to resolutions opposing such a fee; so far 154 lawmakers have.