A Must Read by Stephen Carlisle: Enjoy the Silence

Many times, I am asked to speak to student law associations and sometimes to artist associations. At these, there are frequent questions about the future of the arts in the era of unfettered internet exploitation. My response is usually in the form of a question:

“Did you hear that?

(Silence)

“Let me ask you again…did you hear that?”

(More silence and murmurs of confusion)

“That’s the sound that Spotify makes when it has no content.”

Which brings us to an Act introduced by Congressmen Darryl Issa and Ted Deutch on April 5, 2017. 1 The bill, informally known as the Performance Royalty Owners of Music Opportunity To Earn Act (PROMOTE Act) and more formally known as HR 1914, would for the first time create a legal right for the owner of a sound recording to pull their recordings from terrestrial radio airplay.

The bill itself is not complicated, running a mere 4 pages. It creates an addition to the exclusive rights contained in 17 USC 106, a seventh right, namely:

“[T]o prohibit performance of a sound recording publicly by means of a broadcast transmission (as that term is defined in section 114(k)) by a terrestrial radio station.”

However, that right may not be exercised if the following occurs:

“An owner of copyright in a sound recording may not exercise the exclusive right under paragraph (7) of section 106 to prohibit the broadcast transmission of the sound recording by a terrestrial radio station with regard to—

(A) a terrestrial radio station that pays the applicable royalties under terms described in paragraph (2);

IF AND ONLY IF:

[T]he royalties and terms described in this paragraph shall be identical to those regarding a license for eligible nonsubscription transmission services for audio transmissions under subsection (f)(2).”

For those of you non-lawyers amongst my faithful reading public, this means that a regular, over-the-air radio station must pay to the owners of a sound recordings a royalty equal to that which is paid by Pandora and similar services. If the radio station refuses to pay the money, the sound recording owner gets to pull their sound recordings from airplay.

Sheer genius, I tell you.

Read the post on Copyright.Nova.edu

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