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Legislators Re-Introduce Bill to Make Radio Stations Pay For Music
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The Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, originally introduced in 2015, is back on the table.

A bipartisan group of legislators led by Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have reintroduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, a bill that would establish a public performance right for sound recordings on terrestrial radio, forcing stations to pay labels and artists.

Joining Nadler and Blackburn in reviving the bill, originally introduced in 2015, were Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Tom Rooney (R-FL).

If the bill passes, and is signed into law by President Trump, it would put AM/FM radio on equal footing with webcasters like Pandora and iHeartRadio, which pay statutory royalties for their online radio platforms (explained here). (Both companies have entered the on-demand streaming business as well.) Members of Congress say the bill will not be used to lower royalties that radio stations now pay to publishers and songwriters, which stations have always paid for the use of their songs.

The legislators also say the bill will “make a clear statement that pre-1972 recordings have value and those who are profiting from them must pay appropriate royalties for their use,” a reference to the ongoing web of litigation involving recordings made when copyright was still a matter of state law. As previously reported, sound recordings made after 1972 are covered under federal copyright law.

The bill is being reintroduced at a time when Congress is starting to work on a range of copyright reforms.

“Our current music licensing laws are antiquated and unfair, which is why we need a system that ensures all radio services play by the same rules and all artists are fairly compensated,” Representatives Nadler, Blackburn, Conyers, Issa, Deutch and Rooney said in a joint statement. “Our laws should reward innovation, spur economic diversity and uphold the constitutional rights of creators. That is what the Fair Play Fair Pay Act sets out to accomplish: fixing a system that for too long has disadvantaged music creators and pitted technologies against each other by allowing certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists.”
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