Performance artists may be closer to getting royalties whenever their music is played on the radio. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which represents broadcast radio, has proposed a plan this month under which stations would begin paying performers royalties when their songs are broadcast through the air. Congress became embroiled in the battle between performance artists and radio stations last year, when both the House and Senate judiciary committees passed the "Performance Rights Act." Radio stations are considering a compromise to reduce the impact they feel from the new legislation.
For a refresher on this topic, click here for out a post I wrote back in March. Here are a few summarizing points of what that said:
- First, broadcast radio currently only provides royalties to songwriters -- not to the artists that perform the music. Due to the Cable Act of 1992, performers can't demand royalties. Instead, radio stations argue that there's implicit compensation provided to the performance artists by providing free publicity.
- Second, Internet streaming radio already provides royalties to performers. That was a requirement from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but it doesn't apply to songs heard with an antenna through the FM spectrum.
- Third, the Performance Rights Act includes provisions to protect small and non-profit radio stations from excessive royalty fees, while putting most of the cost on the big stations that could more easily afford it.
- Finally, the Act also would have relied on the Copyright Royalty Board to set the royalty fees for those larger radio stations, rather than specify a specific rate.