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Obama Administration Gives a Boost to Musicians, Record Labels

Corgan Here’s my story for Variety on the latest in the battle over the Performance Rights Act —  an intra-industry squabble that has played out for more than a year in Washington:

The Obama administration on Thursday signaled its support for a contentious bill that would require radio broadcasters to pay musicians, recording artists and record labels when their songs are played over the air.

The Performance Rights Act would amend U.S. copyright law, which already requires that satellite and digital radio compensate performers, to cover broadcast stations that have long been exempt, with the rationale that their airplay is a soruce of valuable promotion for artists.

In a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the general counsel of the Department of Commerce, Cameron Kerry, expressed the department’s support for the bill, arguing that to provide “fair compensation to America’s performers and record companies through a broad public performance right in sound recordings is a matter of fundamental fairness to performers. It would also provide a level playing field for all broadcasters to compete in the current environment of rapid technological change, including the Internet, satellite and terrestrial broadcasters.”

He also argued that American performers and record companies do not benefit when their works are played in other countries that do require compensation to artists when songs are played over the air, as there is a lack of “reciprocal protection.”

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