NAB Panel Looks At Copyright Issues
April 12, 2010 at 11:44 AM (PT)
After a basic crash course on music licensing by moderator and NAB Sr. Associate General Counsel BEN IVINS, a MONDAY morning panel on copyright licensing provided an overview on where the radio industry stands on not only the performance royalty but on new deals with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.
RADIO MUSIC LICENSE COMMITTEE Exec. Dir. BILL VELEZ said that the main issue holding up renegotiation of radio's expired deals with the major licensing organization "is dollars," saying that "We've been effectively overpaying, in our minds" and the RMLC is looking to return to a percentage-of-revenues model rather than a fixed fee. He also noted that talks to try to get SESAC to do industry-wide deals like ASCAP and BMI are "not even close," with SESAC thus far resisting such a deal.
NAB SVP/Government Relations KELLY COLE explained the "performance tax" situation, noting that the House and Senate are presently mulling separate bills introduced by Rep. JOHN CONYERS (D-MI) and Sen. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), and that the NAB is pushing "Local Radio Freedom Act" resolutions in both chambers to counter the royalty bills. "We have had remarkable success" in signing up supporters and co-sponsors, COLE said, adding that the NAB's support on the hill is "much broader" than the number of co-sponsors. Addressing the issue that streaming and satellite companies do pay performance royalties, COLE noted that the distinction is that broadcasters are not a subscription-based models.
Attorney DAVID OXENFORD and COLE joked about how the artists and politicians pushing for the performance royalty have likened the lack of a royalty to "slavery," and COLE noted a proposal to have artists sign onto a list to opt out of radio airplay if they don't want their songs to be played without payment. COLE said that the labels using artists like SHERYL CROW is persuasive on CAPITOL HILL, but that the NAB follows up by pointing out that 50% of the money will go to the labels.
OXENFORD also broke down the different rights inherent in the recording of a song, including performance rights, sound recording rights and digital reproduction rights, and explained how the concept of "fair use" does not apply to radio stations broadcasting a song.
BONNEVILLE SVP/Legal and Regulatory Affairs DAVID REDD outlined his principles of dealing with copyright, including that if you did not create something oneself, a license may be required, and having an ASCAP/BMI/SESAC license does not mean you have an absolute right to use a song any way you see fit, especially in commercials; if you did create something, a license still might be necessary if someone else produced it for you (for example, using work created by a third-party independent contractor remains owned by the contractor unless rights are specifically assigned); and put what you plan to do with the content in writing (such as streaming).
He also warned that the law is lagging behind technology and that contracts do not always address every possible need. He advised familiarity with section 512 of the Copyright Act, which protects parties from liability for copyright violations posted to websites by third parties in the manner of "user-generated content."
CNET's Cooley Looks At 3-D, iPad
CNET's BRIAN COOLEY presented his annual session on new technology on MONDAY afternoon, predicting a steady upward sales curve for 3-D television as sets get replaced, but expressed skepticism that 3-D content will meet widespread popularity (with the exception of sports), and discussed the "hype" of the iPad as well, lauding the USA TODAY app but calling the WALL STREET JOURNAL's app "dreadful." He said that the important lesson of the iPad is that definitions like "TV station" and "radio station" and "newspaper" are going away, replaced by "media brands" appearing across platforms.