Copyright Chief Pushes Congress To Adopt A Radio Royalty
April 30, 2015 at 1:07 PM (PT)
U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE Dir./Register of Copyrights MARIA PALLANTE took a strong stand during a WEDNESDAY hearing before the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, calling for a "full public performance right for sound recordings," including bringing pre-1972 copyrights under federal copyright. She also wants to make unauthorized online content streaming a felony, and to review anticircumvention exceptions.
The COPYRIGHT OFFICE first made that recommendation in a report last year, which also called for greater parity among competing platforms. Music publishers argue that they are being undercompensated for digital airplay on sites like PANDORA .
Earlier this month, a "Fair Play For Fair Pay Act" to address these issues by Reps. JERROLD NADLER, MARSHA BLACKBURN, JOHN CONYERS and TED DEUTSCH, a bill that would create a public performance right, which broadcasters argue is just a tax.
PALLANTE also says changing the law to make it harder for online pirates to distribute content is "warranted and overdue."
"Currently, criminals who engage in unlawful internet streaming can only be charged with a misdemeanor, even though those who unlawfully reproduce and distribute copyrighted material can be charged with a felony," she points out. "This distinction makes no sense."
Following the hearing, the MUSICFIRST COALITION Exec. Dir. TED KALO said: "Register PALLANTE is an independent expert who speaks for no industry or special interest, only for good policy. Her endorsement of the 'Fair Play Fair Pay Act' as a smart framework for overdue reform establishes a fundamental truth — this bill is a wise and critically necessary step forward to make music licensing work better for creators, radio services, and fans alike."
PALLANTE called the lack of an AM/FM performance right "indefensible" and "embarrassing."
"The Register's words were music to musicians' ears. We wholeheartedly agree that music creators are struggling with outmoded laws that have not kept step with the digital age, and the time has come for Congress to ensure fair market pay for all music creators across all platforms," said THE RECORDING ACADEMY Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer DARYL P. FRIEDMAN. "Music makers have been waiting for a copyright update for decades; hundreds from the music community told CONGRESS as much at this month's GRAMMYs on the Hill. We now look forward to working with the Committee to bring music compensation laws into the 21st century."
PALLANTE also recommended that the U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE be removed from the jurisdiction of the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, where it has been since 1897.
"The office's current organizational structure is under strain because the copyright system has evolved and because digital advancements have changed the expectations of the public," she said in a written statement. She asked the committee to codify the COPYRIGHT OFFICE's independence.