Sunday, July 8, 2007

Why do Nashville Songwriters oppose the IREA?

From nashvillesongwriters.com: Songwriters oppose the “Internet Radio Equality Act,” H.R. 2060, S 1353:
This legislation contains provisions that would disallow performance royalties to be negotiated in the free market. Past history shows that other emerging technologies, including cable television and video rentals, made the same argument—that rates should be lower so they could compete. The industries became huge and the result was business models that are very unfair to the creators of music. Also, large corporations such as Clear Channel and Microsoft could end up being the biggest windfall financial beneficiaries.
A few things:

1. The IREA does not affect songwriter royalties.

2. The IREA does not "disallow performance royalties to be negotiated in the free market". Sound-recording performance royalties can still be negotiated independently. Ironically, this is NOT the case with the composition performance royalties (paid through ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) which covers the songwriters.

3. The rate cut that "large corporations" get isn't the most important part of this legislation. In fact, I'm sure those numbers were put there as a point of negotiation. Bills always get changed before they're passed. Why throw out the baby with the bath water? The important part of the IREA is the changes to the Copyright Act to treat satellite radio and internet radio on the same basis (that of a fair market value vs. a "willing buyer, willing seller" value which only internet radio is subject to now.)

I think someone doesn't get it over there. Internet radio is paying royalties to the composers now. The IREA doesn't affect that. Higher royalties on the sound recording performance will reduce the number of internet radio stations, which will in turn mean less diversity in music programming.

But then they also say:

America has LOST TWO-THIRDS of its PROFESSIONAL SONGWRITERS over the past decade due to illegal downloading, piracy, radio deregulation and corporate mergers. Radio Deregulation has resulted in dramatically fewer spots on radio playlists. A few companies program the majority of country music reporting stations.

So they're complaining about the lack of diversity in music radio, yet they're supporting a bill that will kill off much of that diversity. Hopefully they'll realize this soon.

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