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Pre-1972 Recordings Now Receive Royalty Attention

House measure aimed at webcasters

Now the work of retired musicians is getting attention in the music royalty world.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) introduced the Respecting Senior Performers as Essential Cultural Treasures Act (Respect Act). The Respect Act would require webcasters to pay statutory license fees for pre-1972 sound recordings as a condition of using the statutory license for sound recordings made in 1972 and later, which receive federal copyright protection.

They say the bill would not preempt existing state law protections.

“Digital radio stations that earn millions off Motown classics but fail to pay royalties to the artists who recorded them are withholding hard-earned profits from deserving musicians,” Conyers said. “Refusing retired artists royalties from digital radio stations is particularly unfair.”

Future of Music Coalition VP of Policy and Education Casey Rae said that while the FMC is pleased members of Congress recognize the importance of compensating artists for the use of their work, “unfortunately, this bill doesn’t offer performers the full suite of rights afforded to artists who made recordings after Feb. 15, 1972.” He did say it’s a step in the right direction.

NAB told the U.S. Copyright Office last week the trade group opposes efforts to expand royalty rights to pre-1972 recordings in general, calling that “retroactive federalization.”