WASHINGTON, DC -- The Recording Industry Association of America's performance tax effort is founded on an incomplete and therefore misleading comparison of U.S. and international copyright law, according to a study released by NAB today. The analysis was unveiled as nine additional lawmakers voiced their opposition to the record label-led effort. The bipartisan House opposition now stands at144 lawmakers.
"The record labels have devised a lobbying strategy that relies on cherry-picking international examples that paint a distorted picture of copyright law," said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton. "The U.S. protects sound recordings for 45 years longer than Canada and many countries in Europe and elsewhere; if it's 'international parity' that RIAA is looking for, they ought to examine the entire landscape."
Among the foreign regulations cited in the new analysis:
Other countries provide less copyright protection for sound recordings.
Under U.S. copyright law, a sound recording is generally protected for 95 years. Canada and many countries in Europe and Asia provide only 50 years of protection. In such countries, the recordings of artists like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and many other stars of the 1950s and 1960s have either, or will soon, lose copyright protection.
countries' broadcasting systems are or were government-subsidized.
While the U.S. broadcasting business was built by private commercial entrepreneurs, broadcasting systems in many other countries were built and owned, or heavily subsidized, by the government and by tax dollars. The 2005 report of the Digital Future Initiative Panel noted a wide disparity between the public funding for broadcasting in the U.S. versus other countries around the world:
|Annual Funding Per Capita|
Cultural playlist quotas are imposed on broadcasters abroad.
Diversity on the airwaves in the U.S. comes from the high quantity of stations and market-driven differences in programming, not from government-mandated quotas, as it does in other countries. In Canada, private radio stations must ensure that 35 percent of all popular music aired each week is Canadian. Similar provisions exist in numerous countries abroad, including Mexico, France and Poland.
The analysis concludes by noting that the existing U.S. model of free airplay for free promotion "has served the recording and broadcast industries well for decades." Levying a new performance tax on local radio stations would "take this mutually beneficial system and transform it into an unfair, one-sided scheme that financially benefits only the recording industry -- to the detriment of local radio stations and their listeners," the analysis concludes.
The international analysis is the latest study released by NAB, countering arguments made by the RIAA, a Washington-based organization representing record label conglomerates seeking to levy a new fee, or "performance tax," on America's local radio stations for music aired free to listeners. Last year, NAB released a study showing that free airplay on local radio stations generated between $1.5 and $2.4 billion dollars in album sales for the recording industry.
Nine More Lawmakers Oppose RIAA Tax
NAB also announced today that nine additional lawmakers have signed on to a bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives resolution opposing the introduction of "any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge" on local radio stations. The growing chorus of support for The Local Radio Freedom Act now stands at 144.
The Local Radio Freedom Act, unveiled last month at a Capitol Hill event hosted by the Free Radio Alliance, was introduced by Reps. Gene Green (TX-29) and Mike Conaway (TX-11).
"Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings," reads H. Con. Res. 49.
Reps. Corrine Brown (FL-3), Ander Crenshaw (FL-4), Artur Davis (AL-7), Jo Ann Emerson (MO-8), Jack Kingston (GA-1), Solomon Ortiz (TX-27), Bill Posey (FL-15), Tim Ryan (OH-17), and Rob Wittman (VA-1) all have all added their support to the Local Radio Freedom Act, bringing the total bipartisan support to 144 House lawmakers. To date, the following members of Congress have co-sponsored the resolution:
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. As the voice of more than 8,300 radio and television stations, NAB advances their interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.