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Stage Set for ’Net Music Royalty Debate

Advocates on all sides of streaming debate gear up for Hill hearing

All of those with a vested interest in streaming royalties are preparing for tomorrow’s congressional hearing on the topic.

While lawmakers are not expected to act soon on the issue as the current congressional calendar nears a close, the hearing sets the stage for action on the topic in the new year.

Former NAB Joint Board Chairman and Hubbard Radio President/CEO Bruce Reese will represent traditional radio tomorrow for the NAB at a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. Pandora chairman/CEO Joe Kennedy is set to represent the Internet audio company.

Artist and Chair Emeritus of the Recording Academy Jimmy Jam will testify for musicFirst. SoundExchange President Michael Huppe is slated to testify also, as is George Mason University School of Law Adjunct Professor Jeffrey Eisenach.

Up for discussion is the Internet Radio Fairness Act of 2012. Proponents say the legislation would level the playing field for music royalties paid by digital radio services like Pandora and satellite radio.

The measure was introduced by Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in the House and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the Senate. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) chairs the subcommittee.

We’ve reported that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has said he is drafting competing legislation that would include broadcast radio in the discussion of the future of digital music royalties. Record label-backed musicFirst has expressed support for the concept.

In advance of the hearing, the Internet Radio Fairness Coalition, which supports IFRA, said it gained eight more members including Internet radio services, Musera Radio, Pearadio and Senzari; as well as Internet radio economy participants Digital Sound & Video, Mark Ramsey Media, Triton Digital and TruLocal Media.

Clear Channel, Pandora and CEA were among the founding members.