Lawmakers in both houses of Congress have jointly reintroduced the Performance Rights Act bills, which would require AM and FM radio to pay the copyright owners of the recordings they play.
Industry proponents of the bill suggest the law is about achieving “fairness,” not only for performers, but across music platforms, as “the U.S. recognizes a performance right for artists on all other platforms, including satellite radio, Internet webcast radio, and cable radio channels.” NAB president/CEO David Rehr framed the legislation as a bailout for the record industry, while Free Radio Alliance spokeswoman Cathy Rought called the measure “bad public policy” in light of the economy.
The processes for setting the rate and collecting and distributing royalties would be similar to that set up for webcasting royalties, including the roles of the Copyright Royalty Board and SoundExchange.
I, personally, call this bill a legal “payola”, enabling the record labels to play artists deemed to be “worthy” of being on radio. It also sets up a possible shutdown of FM radio music by allowing the recording industry to set unreasonable rates similar to Internet radio.
The recording industry was caught off guard by the new technology and is now playing catch-up in order to re-generate their profits.
By using lobbyists in Washington, they may well succeed in allowing “unchecked power.”