Business Matters: If Big Radio Had Pandora's Royalty Rate, It Would Owe Billions
Business Matters: If Big Radio Had Pandora's Royalty Rate, It Would Owe Billions

The music business lost one of its biggest supporters and a long-time friend in Tuesday's elections. Howard Berman lost his seat in the House after 30 years in office while Mary Bono Mack, widow of the late musician Sony Bono, lost her seat in the House 14 years in office.

Elsewhere, the people involved in the laws impacting webcasting royalties, and some of the music industry's biggest supporters, were reelected or were already set to return to Washington next year. In addition, the music industry could have politicians friendly to the music industry chairing judiciary committees in the house and the senate, an important fact since that committee oversees matters of copyright.

Berman was the victim
of redistricting and a top-two primary system that put him against another popular Democrat in a redrawn 30th Congressional District in California. Berman lost to Rep. Brad Sherman by a 39.5% to 60.5% margin.

Berman has been a dogged fighter on behalf of content owners for years, from supporting anti-piracy legislation to co-sponsoring the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act. Berman co-sponsored the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and was a supporter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). He is the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. He is also on the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet.

"In his 30 years in Congress, Congressman Berman has been a shining example of leadership and public service," RIAA chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said in a statement to Billboard.biz. "His ability to legislate and his keen intellect have left an important legacy that will benefit creators and the country at large for many, many years."

Bono Mack lost the office she took after the death of her husband, Sonny Bono, 14 years ago. Sources say the defeat is a loss for artists and the music industry in part because is co-chair of the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus and is a copyright holder (through her husband's works).

The music industry is likely to have friendly people chairing Judiciary committees in both the House and the Senate. Sen. Leahy will still chair the Senate Judiciary Committee because Democrats retained control of the Senate. While Republicans retained control of the House, current chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith will run into term limits. Sources say Rep. Bob Goodlatte, currently the chairman of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, is widely expected to assume chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress. Sources say it is too early to say who will chair the House Subcommittee in place of Goodlattte.

Elsewhere in the country, music industry supporters in Tennessee -- Bob Corker, Jim Cooper and Marsha Blackburn -- each won their elections. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a songwriter and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, won his seventh Senate term.

Politicians involved with the current battle over digital performance royalties will be in office next year. Jason Chaffetz and Jared Polis, sponsors of the Internet Radio Fairness Act, won reelection and retain their places in the House. The Internet Radio Fairness Act is supported by Pandora, Clear Channel, the CEA and other members of the recently formed Internet Radio Fairness Coalition.

Jerrold Nadler, author of a competing bill that is currently in draft form, won reelection to the 8th District of New York. The Nadler bill is supported by SoundExchange and the RIAA.

Because President Obama won reelection, the two people most engaged with intellectual property enforcement, Victoria Espinel (IP Enforcement Coordinator for the White House) and John Morton (Director of I.C.E.) will retain their appointed positions.

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