New legislation offered by Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA)—who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee for Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet—and Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) would allow performing artists to pop out of having their music played on the radio if the performing artist is not being paid an agreed-upon performance royalty.
According to Issa, the bill—titled the Performance Royalty Owners Music Opportunity to Earn Act of 2017 (a.k.a. the PROMOTE Act—get it?)—”calls the bluff of both sides in the debate over performance rights. The terrestrial stations playing these works without compensating the artists argue that airtime provides exposure and promotional value, while the artists argue the status quo allows radio stations to profit on artists’ performances without providing any due compensation. Our bill puts forward a workable solution that will allow those who would otherwise be paid a performance right to opt out of allowing broadcasters to play their music if they feel they’re not being appropriately compensated. This is a win-win that helps solve this decades-long problem in a way that’s fair to both parties.”
Naturally, proponents and opponents have lined up: NAB Executive Vice President/Communications Dennis Wharton, in a statement, said, “NAB has significant concerns with this legislation that would upend the music licensing framework that currently enables broadcasters to serve local communities across the country, and would result in less music being played on the radio, to the detriment of listeners and artists. NAB thanks the almost 200 members of Congress who support the Local Radio Freedom Act and recognize the tremendous benefits of free, promotional airplay for musicians and labels.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, musicFIRST gives the measure a thumbs-up. Executive Director Chris Israel: “While the platforms available to US music fans are more innovative and diverse than ever, America’s copyright system is struggling to keep up. Music creators rightly expect to be fairly compensated for their work. . . Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The musicFIRST Coalition thanks Congressman Issa for his vision and support.”