Record Industry wants royalty for AM/FM to offset sales slump

From the L.A. Times: “With CD sales tumbling, record companies and musicians are looking at a new potential pot of money: royalties from broadcast riaaradio stations.

“For years, stations have paid royalties to composers and publishers when they played their songs. But they enjoy a federal exemption when paying the performers and record labels because, they argue, the airplay sells music.

“Now, the Recording Industry Assn. of America and several artists’ groups are getting ready to push Congress to repeal the exemption, a move that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new royalties…

“The decision to take on the volatile performance royalty issue again highlights the rough times the mitch bainwolmusic industry is facing as listeners abandon compact discs for digital downloads, often listening to music shared with friends or obtained from file-sharing sites.

“‘The creation of music is suffering because of declining sales,’ said RIAA Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol (pictured right)…

“It’s not the first attempt to kill the exemption. In the past, politically powerful broadcasters beat back those efforts.

“But with satellite and Internet radio forced to pay ‘public performance royalties’ and Web broadcasters up in arms about a recent federal decision to boost their performance royalty rate, the record companies and musicians have a strong hand…

“For record labels and musicians, addressing the issue now is crucial because digital radio, hd radionow being rolled out, allows broadcasters to split a signal into several digital channels and play even more music exempt from performance royalties…

“The U.S. Copyright Office has long supported removing the exemption.

“The groups have a major ally in Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA), who now chairs the House subcommittee dealing with intellectual property law. Berman is ‘actively contemplating’ leading a legislative push to end the exemption.

“‘Given the many different ways to promote music now that didn’t exist LA Timesas effectively when this original exemption was made,’ he said, ‘the logic of that I think is more dubious.'”

Read the entire article at the L.A. Times.

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