A Deep Look Into The Radio Performance Royalty Bill Part I

Bob Cherry:
I wanted to take a unique look at the Performance Royalty Bill (H. R. 4789), the “Performance Rights Act”, or simply, “The Act”, and its sister act, H.R. 848 which, is practically identical, that would require radio stations to pay a royalty on performances. I focus this article on H.R. 4789 but any arguments, the bill changes to Title 17, and my conclusions would be same regardless of which bill is addressed. Currently radio only pays the songwriters and publishers but, not the artists who actually play the music or the copyright holders who are often the record labels. In bluegrass music, we have the Osborne Brothers and their extremely well known song, “Rocky Top” that gets airplay, used in advertising music, associated with other music, etc. While Bobby and Sonny Osborne sang the song and play the music, they did not write it. The song was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. Many others from Jimmy Dean, Dottie West and Dolly Parton, among others have had their renditions of the song on radio, none of them ever got paid a single dime in royalties for their performances. The song was actually written by songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967. It is the Bryants and their publisher who have received a great deal of revenue from airplay of their song. So why don’t the Osborne’s get anything but the Bryants do? It is because of the way performance royalties are licensed, regulated and operated. This is what the Performance Royalty Bill wants to adjust. As the title of the bill suggests, “To provide parity in radio performance rights under Title 17, United States Code, and for other purposes.”

continue reading from source on Background & Introduction, Opposing Viewpoints (The Music Biz & The Broadcasting Biz), The Congressional Hearings & The Other Arguements

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