The House copyright subcommittee will hold an oversight hearing March 25 to explore the merits of a “performers’ rights royalty” for recording artists whose songs are played by broadcasters.The Recording Industry Assn. of America has steadfastly supported the concept over the years, but has been thwarted in part by the strong broadcast industry lobby in D.C. The RIAA maintains that broadcasters should be forced to compensate the music industry for the use of recorded music. Broadcasters, on the other hand, argue that they already pay more than $ 300 million per year in music licensing fees to the likes of ASCAP and BMI. Broadcasters further claim that they boost the revenue of recording artists simply by airing sound recordings of artists. The U.S. Copyright Office has in the past sided with the music industry and in favor of performance royalties. Another issue likely to surface at the hearing chaired by Rep. William Hughes (D-N.J.) is the advent of digital audio cable technology. Digital cable allows a company to beam compact disc-quality sound into the home over radio, thus exposing the recording industry to potentially huge revenue losses from home taping.
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