Support H.R. 1733 and H.R. 1999 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Support H.R. 1733 and H.R. 1999

Letters to Officials

May 11, 2015
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.  20515


Dear Representative,

On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to support H.R. 1733 and H.R. 1999, both of which address inequities in the music copyright system.

Currently, creators are compensated differently based on the source of the music when it is played over the airwaves.  Digital radio services are regulated under a compulsory licensing system established in the 1970s, with rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB).  Due to complaints about the pricing determined by the CRB, the copyright law was updated in 2008 to permit parties to set industry-wide rates as an alternative to those issued by the CRB.  This law permitted the free market to provide the pricing for copyright material.

However, satellite radio services were “grandfathered” to function under the then-existing below-market fixed price agreements, and still are subject to compulsory licensing agreements with rates set by the CRB.  Internet radio companies are required to at least pay a government rate based on the rate paid by their competitors in the marketplace.  Finally, due to the anachronistic notion that playing music on AM/FM radio stations was equivalent to paying creators, those stations still do not pay any money for music and other performances aired on their stations.

H.R. 1733, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015, was introduced by Rep. Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on April 13, 2015.  This legislation provides equal compensation for music creators and artists by eliminating grandfathered rates for satellite radio providers and creating a mechanism for AM/FM radio stations to pay for programming content.  The bill also provides royalty payments for master recordings created prior to 1972 and ends the government’s practice of picking winners and losers by propping up certain services.

On April 23, 2015, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced H.R. 1999, the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act.  This legislation requires AM/FM radio broadcasters to pay musicians, performers, vocalists, and copyright owners for the use of their creative property, and prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from mandating Smartphone manufacturers to include and activate an FM radio chip in such devices, leaving it to the marketplace to determine whether that is necessary.

Consumers today have more choices than ever in how, where, and when they listen to music, including radio, satellite radio, television, and mobile devices.  All music should be treated the same regardless of its source.

I urge you to support both of these bills in order to reduce inequities related to music distribution.  All votes on H.R. 1733 and H.R. 1999 will be among those considered in CCAGW’s 2015 Congressional Ratings.


Tom Schatz

President, CCAGW

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