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NAB Opposes New Senate Music Royalty Bill

Measure would set compensation to fair market value, lawmakers say

Another bill to have radio pay more music royalties has been introduced in Congress. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both of Tennessee, and Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch, all Republicans, are backing the Songwriter Equity Act.

The legislation would amend federal law to allow songwriters to be compensated for the fair market value of their work, according to the lawmakers. If passed, the measure would direct the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are sold, such as through music downloads and CD purchases, replacing what they say is the current below-market standard.

The bill would also remove a provision of law that narrows the scope of evidence the federal rate court may examine when asked to set songwriter compensation for when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert.

The Senate bill is companion legislation to H.R. 4079, which Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced in February.

This is the second radio music royalty bill introduced this month. Earlier, we reported Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn introduced legislation affecting radio-TV combo owners. The measure ties the ability of a television station to collect its program retransmission fees from cable and satellite providers to whether its radio station makes additional music royalty payments.

NAB opposes Blackburn’s measure and the new Senate bill, saying radio stations already pay music royalties to ASCAP and BMI and provides music promotion for free. NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton says the Senate measure to increase the rates that songwriters are paid when their music is played on local radio stations and other platforms could impose new costs on broadcasters that jeopardize the future of free locally-focused service. “While this legislation raises important issues about the changes confronting the songwriter community, NAB objects to changes in law that would deal with the financial imbalance between songwriters and artists by subjecting free broadcast radio stations to new fees.”

New Royalty Bill Surfaces