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Senate Judiciary Passes Performance Royalty Bill

Bendall of MusicFirst cites 'unprecedented progress'

The performance royalty is moving forward on Capitol Hill. How will it fare in the main chambers of the legislature?

MusicFirst is celebrating passage by the Senate Judiciary Committee today of the Performance Rights Act.

‚ÄúToday we are one step closer to righting a wrong that has existed since the early days of radio; one step closer to winning the fight for fundamental justice that has been waged by countless artists and musicians over the last 80 years,” Jennifer Bendall, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

Broadcasters led by the National Association of Broadcasters have been opposing the idea of a performance royalty, what they call a performance tax. The legislation would require payments by music radio stations to artists, musicians and rights holders. Broadcasters say the main beneficiary will be record labels and that royalties would be a huge financial burden on radio station operators.

The House Judiciary Committee approved a similar bill earlier. Bendall called the latest Hill developments “unprecedented progress” for the royalty.

An NAB spokesman said the Senate committee vote was “fully expected” because that’s where the RIAA enjoys its greatest support. He noted that several members of the committee expressed opposition, and that Sen. Arlen Specter said it would be some time before any legislation would reach the floor.

The NAB believes it has 251 House and 26 Senate members on its side of the issue, enough to defeat any legislation in the full bodies, including the latest, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma.

“NAB Takes Survey, Finds Support,” Oct. 15