Folksinger Judy Collins and R&B legend Sam Moore were among the witnesses today as a House Judiciary Subcommittee held the first hearing examining whether terrestrial radio broadcasters should begin paying royalties to performers and record companies.

During the hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, Collins read a letter she received in 1976 from Stephen Sondheim, who composed the Collins hit "Send In the Clowns": "'Thank you for giving me my first hit song. Gratefully, Stephen Sondheim.'"

Collins noted that songwriters and publishers receive royalties for terrestrial broadcasting but musicians and singers do not. "They deservedly receive compensation," Collins said. "For the privilege to have helped them make a living, I would like to do so for myself."

Currently, only digital broadcasters - satellite, cable, Internet - pay musicians, singers and record companies for the right to perform sound recordings under section 114 of the Copyright Act. Terrestrial radio broadcasters are exempt from paying them. But both digital and terrestrial broadcasters pay songwriters and publishers to perform the recorded compositions. A coalition of artists and labels, called MusicFIRST, is trying to change the law so performers are paid as well.

Copyright Office chief Marybeth Peters today urged the Subcommittee members
to change the law so that performers are treated the same as they are for other forms of broadcasts and are treated equitably - as long as songwriters and publishers do not lose their benefits in the process.

Moore testified that he must still tour to support his family because he does not receive royalties for radio broadcasting songs he performed. "At 72, I'd rather be home with my grandchildren and playing golf than running the road."

Charles Warfield, Jr., president/COO of ICBC Broadcast Holdings , said he was testifying on behalf of 6,800 local radio members of the National Assn. of Broadcasters. He urged the Subcommittee members to keep the current law,
arguing that radio has promoted the artists' sales of records, live shows and merchandise for nearly 80 years. Imposing what he calls a "tax" could put small broadcasters out of business, he argued.

Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., who has recorded music, also urged for a change in the law so that performers could be treated the same as songwriters and publishers. "The song doesn't come alive without the performance," he argued.

MusicFIRST yesterday released information from a new economic study that shows the U.S. radio industry's advertising revenues have grown from slightly more than $15 billion in 1998 to nearly $20 billion in 2006, and are projected to grow to more than $23 billion by 2011. The group argues that broadcasters should pay performers for the content they use to build their businesses.

During the hearing today, Warfield argued that the growth occurred from 1998-2001, and that ad revenues have been flat from 2001-2006.

Subcommittee chairman, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and ranking member Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., joined nearly a dozen Subcommittee members for the hearing before a SRO crowd.

No proposed legislation has yet been drafted on the issue. The parties are expected to continue speaking to Congressional members during an educational
process so they can learn more about the performance right.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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