Subject: music licensing bill
Mime-Version: 1.0 (NeXT Mail 3.3 v118.2)
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 98 00:43:47 -0700
Subject: Subject: music licensing bill
[Wouldn't you know it, the moment I join ASCAP the Congress starts making
noises like they're going to give away my royalties... harrummph! By the
way, have you heard the new CD by Kristina Olsen & Peter Grayling called
"Duet"? You can probably get info from <TAKE_A_BREAK@compuserve.com> ...
But back to this bill, you'll notice that in the message below there are no
dates specified, so how do we know this isn't from a year or two ago? We
look at the WWW Congress pages; sure enough, we find that H.R.2589 is current
and that it passed the house on 3/25/98 and was sent to the Senate on 3/26
(see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d105:HR02589:@@@L). So this
note is legit after all.
Forwarded-by: "murray" <email@example.com>
Music Licensing Bill
The U. S. House of Representatives just passed H.R. 2589, the "Copyright
Term Extension" legislation. Unfortunately the "Music Licensing" bill was
attached as an amendment. While the Copyright Term Extension is good for
composers in that it extends the term of copyright (making it on par with
the protections composers already have in most of the rest of the world),
the Music Licensing amendment is a devasting threat to the rights of our
creative community to be compensated for the use of their work.
Here are the issues:
1. the music licensing amendment allows bars, restaurants and other
businesses to play recorded and transmitted music in their establishments
without any payment to the composers of that music. They would still need
to be licensed to have live music. Since the early part of this century,
these businesses were required to pay a licensing fee for this use. This
took the form of blanket licensing fees from the Performing Right
Organizations (PRO's) such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. The average
establishment pays $1.58 per day to ASCAP for the right to play all music
in the ASCAP repertoire. This fee is computed on a sliding scale that takes
into account the size of the establishment and how often music is played.
2. the loss of these revenues will mean that the composers and songwriters
will receive millions of dollars less per year.
3. this sets a dangerous precedent for all owners of intellectual property.
For if Congress can give away your right to get paid for your music to a
powerful lobby such as the National Restaurant Assn., it can also give away
any other property rights when a powerful lobby comes along that wants them
4. the general justification is that music is not the focus of these
businesses. That a ridiculous argument. For plates and napkins aren't the
focus of the business either, but they still must pay for them. Perhaps
because it's intellectual property, this seems ok. By extension, a bar
shouldn't have to pay for the software it uses as that's not the focus of
their business either.
All that aside, if we ever want to get paid for the use of our music,
reducing the pot that gets distributed to writers by millions of dollars
each year is counter to our interests as artists.
The Senate will be taking up this bill shortly. It's important that we
act on it right away by writing to our Senators and letting other
songwriters know about this bill. I'd appreciate hearing your comments.
Paul Reisler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
PO Box 38
Washington, VA 22747
(540) 987-3164 (540) 987-3166 (Fax)
© 1998 Peter Langston