ASCAP, b’casters shake hands

WASHINGTON — ASCAP has reached a settlement with religious broadcasters, thus breaking a logjam in Congress over legislation on copyrights for musical works published before 1978.

The American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers lost a court case that essentially vacated all rights to royalties unless the copyright is literally stamped on a record. According to ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento, the record industry did not begin imprinting copyrights on records until 1978.

Since losing that court case, ASCAP has been pushing for a change to the U.S. Copyright Code.

However, the National Religious Broadcasters objected to the legislation and was pushing ASCAP to lower rates for music licenses. (NRB was particularly concerned about the “per program” fees paid by radio stations with talk programming.)

In the ASCAP settlement, NRB agreed to stop trying to block the legislation. After the Senate was notified of the settlement, it moved legislation Sept. 30 designed to extend copyright protection to unlabeled works. The House could follow suit as early as this week, according to LoFrumento.

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