Agreement is Reached on Historic Bill Setting Out Recording Artists' Right to Audit Record Labels

Industry Set to Remain Neutral on Legislation Spearheaded by AFTRA

Los Angeles, June 11, 2004 – Over the past week the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and members of the California Legislature, including the bill’s author Senator Kevin Murray, have been engaged in intense negotiations to hammer out a compromise version of SB 1034, the “Recording Industry Accounting Practices Act.”  The amended compromise bill that has emerged would provide recording artists under royalty contracts the statutory right to confirm, through audits, proper payment for their work, and conduct such audits - or have such audits conducted by their chosen representatives - individually or in groups.  The bill would also codify the ability to hire auditors on a contingency fee basis, which, combined with the ability to audit in groups, should increase the probability that artists will actually pursue audits. 

The bill will now return to the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee for a vote on June 15 and then will be heard by the Assembly Judiciary Committee before going to the full Assembly for a vote.  The Senate passed an earlier version of the bill last year.

“This legislation represents a necessary and fundamental first step in addressing the long-standing conflict between record companies and recording artists regarding accounting practices.  Assuming passage, AFTRA intends to build on this initial success by implementing systems to assist artists in accessing this new statutory right and finding and claiming every penny that is due them.  We will be monitoring this area carefully to ensure that the core intent of this bill is fully realized,” stated AFTRA National President John Connolly. 

AFTRA National Executive Director Greg Hessinger added, “Legislation is an inexact art and compromise is inevitable, but this represents a tremendous advance.  By accepting a legislative remedy, the industry has acknowledged the deficiencies in the status quo and taken a step toward greater accuracy and clarity in royalty accounting practices.  We will continue to work with managers, accountants, and other ally groups to enforce recording artists’ rights created by this statute, as well as to seek even more far-reaching reform.”

On Tuesday, Connolly along with other artists and prominent industry figures, including former head of Columbia/Sony Records, Walter Yetnikoff, testified before the California Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee in support of legislative relief. 

AFTRA has for many years worked on legislation to safeguard the rights of recording artists. The 80,000-member union also represents actors, news anchors and reporters, announcers, talk show hosts and other professional performers and broadcasters in television, radio, commercials, non-broadcast industrial programming and new technologies such as digital, interactive programming and CD ROMs.

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Press Contact:
Dick Moore