ArtsWatch: "MusicBus" Gains Momentum

Representatives tell music and radio industry witnesses to propose simpler licensing scheme
June 30, 2014 -- 7:46 am PDT
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

MusicBus Legislative Approach Gaining Momentum
On June 25 GRAMMY winner Rosanne Cash was the first witness to testify on behalf of music creators in part two of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet hearing on music licensing. Stressing that music's many businesses only exist because of artists, Cash said, "Copyright law should not discriminate among different types of creative workers in affording them basic rights to compensation for their work." Part one of the hearing was held June 10 and The Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow's MusicBus proposal called for a comprehensive approach through omnibus legislation to simplify music licensing based on fair market compensation. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has begun working on a draft with colleagues on the committee. "As I noted at the first hearing, our current scheme is so haphazard because, in large part, pieces were developed at different times and often in response to different innovations in the music and technology industries," said Nadler. "Rather than continuing to adjust the system in a piecemeal fashion, we must take a comprehensive approach." The hearing featured eight other witnesses alongside Cash, including representatives from the American Association of Independent Music, ASCAP, National Association of Broadcasters, Pandora, Radio Music License Committee, RIAA, Sirius XM, and SoundExchange. Several lawmakers stressed that time is limited for stakeholders to propose improvements they feel they can live with rather than waiting to see what language ends up in the bill.

Supreme Court Rules For Broadcasters Over Aereo
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Internet-TV service Aereo on June 25 finding that its dime-sized antenna technology did not give it an exemption from respecting broadcasters' copyright interests in their programming streams. NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said, "NAB is pleased the Supreme Court has upheld the concept of copyright protection that is enshrined in the Constitution." A lower court ruled that Aereo's rebroadcasts did not constitute a public performance and therefore did not grant a preliminary injunction against the service before trial. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and the case was remanded back to the lower court for reconsideration. From a music industry perspective it is worth revisiting remarks made in May by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) when she introduced H.R. 4588, the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act. "When Kenny Rogers' 'The Gambler' is played on Internet radio or satellite radio, Kenny gets paid, but when it is played on AM/FM radio, he doesn't get anything," Blackburn noted. "NAB's radio members won't pay Kenny Rogers for his recording of 'The Gambler,' but they demand to be paid when the TV movie of The Gambler is retransmitted. Fair pay for all creators shouldn't be a gamble."

Anti-Piracy Caucus Changes Name, Reports On Progress
On June 24 the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus held a press event announcing its new name — the International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus — and releasing its 2014 international piracy watch list, which identified China, India, Russia, and Switzerland as worst offenders and applauded Italy and the Philippines for making progress. The caucus also released a letter from major advertising organizations describing their concrete steps to assure corporate clients that digital ad placements do not inadvertently support international content piracy by appearing on rogue websites. Co-chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said, "The recognition of an author's ownership in an original creative work is one of our legal system's core principles. If we allow people to take that work without paying for it, artists will no longer have any financial incentive to create new movies, software, video games, books, and music." The caucus' other co-chairs are Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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