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AFTRA Supports Bipartisan ‘Performance Rights Act’

WASHINGTON (December 18, 2007) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists today praised Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) for jointly introducing legislation that would ensure AM and FM radio fairly compensate artists when their performances are broadcast over the air. This announcement follows recent testimony from AFTRA members Lyle Lovett and singer songwriter Alice Peacock at a Senate Judiciary Hearing on the issue in November.
"Recording artists fuel the business that sustains radio in the U.S.," said Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA National Executive Director. "Advanced nations recognize artists' value to terrestrial radio. The U.S. has recognized artists' value to satellite and webcast radio. It is time for this last isolated area of inequity--terrestrial radio in the U.S.--to be fixed by establishing the right of recording artists to receive fair compensation for the value they bring to the American airwaves."
"AFTRA members thank Senators Leahy and Hatch and Representatives Berman and Issa, along with the other co-sponsors, for introducing the Performance Rights Act," Hedgpeth said.
For decades AM and FM broadcasters have enjoyed an exemption from current copyright law which requires satellite radio, cable radio channels, and Internet webcasts to pay a royalty for the use of music. The proposed legislation would correct a loophole in the copyright law by removing the broadcaster exemption to assure that all platforms are treated equally and pay a performance royalty to artists.
Highlights from the proposed legislation:

Over-the-air broadcast stations would be able to use a statutory license and make one payment annually under a government-set rate for all the music they play, instead of having to negotiate with every copyright owner for each use of music. 
The proposed legislation accommodates small broadcasters and others to assure balance and fairness to broadcasters and artists. More than 75 percent of all commercial radio stations and more than 80 percent of all religious stations would be covered through the planned accommodation. 
    ◦ Small commercial stations would pay only $5,000 per year;  
    ◦ Noncommercial stations such as NPR and college radio stations would pay only $1,000
        per year;  
    ◦ Stations that make only incidental uses of music, such as “talk radio” stations, would not
        pay for that music; and  
    ◦ Religious services that are broadcast on radio would be completely exempt.
Proposed amendments to existing law would make clear that a new right for recording artists and owners cannot adversely affect the rights of, or royalties payable to, songwriters or musical work copyright owners.
Other AFTRA members who have spoken out about a performance right on radio include Judy Collins, Sam Moore, Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas, and Mary Wilson, founding member of the Supremes. Moore and Collins testified before the members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.
Creation of a fair performance right would compensate the performers, background singers, studio musicians and copyright holders for their talent and hard work when their songs are broadcast on AM and FM radio.
About AFTRA:
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. More than 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists are moving forward together through AFTRA to protect and improve our jobs, lives, and communities. AFTRA members embrace change in society—from new culture to new technology—and incorporate change in our work and craft. AFTRA celebrates and thrives on the diversity of our members and the work we do. AFTRA opens a whole new world of opportunities for success for professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. Visit AFTRA at