The National Association of Broadcasters has called a performance right for sound recordings “bad for radio, bad for artists and bad for listeners” in two newspaper advertisements thanking two new co-sponsors of the Congressional resolutions supporting the Local Radio Free Act. The Senate version currently has eight co-sponsors while the companion House resolution currently has 109 co-sponsors. Since these are resolutions, no legislation has actually been introduced that would prevent Congress from creating a performance right for sound recordings.
The NAB took out the advertisements to thank Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for their support of the resolution. Both ads tell readers that “an effort by foreign-owned record labels” to impose a “tax on local radio” could change the quality of their local entertainment, weather, news and emergency information.
The United States has a public performance right for musical compositions but not for sound recordings. Owners of sound recordings, as well as performing artists, have a performance right for the digital transmission of their works. This exclusive right was created by the Digital Performance Rights Act of 1995 but does not include performances on broadcast radio or in public places.
The performance right could be part of a new copyright bill in the coming years. Last week's hearing before the House Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet was a primer for topics Congress is likely to tackle. US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante, the hearing's lone witness, singled out the country's lack of a performance right and called it “indefensible.” Subcommittee members Ted Poe (R-TX) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) have co-sponsored the House version of the resolution against the performance right.