Coinciding with what's expected to be explosive Capitol Hill testimony over the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848) before the House Judiciary Committee today (March 10), the NAB has released a study that it says refutes the RIAA's claims on the degree of protections recorded works get in foreign countries.

"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 VP 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 the RIAA is looking for, they ought to examine the entire landscape."

Wharton told Billboard sister publication R&R that the study was done by the NAB's legal staff -- attorneys Jane Mago, Ben Ivins and Suzanne Head -- over the past several months. "We thought that if RIAA is going to base its claim for royalties on international protection, we ought to compare protections offered by foreign countries and the U.S.," Wharton added. "We find their argument completely bogus."

After analyzing foreign regulations that protect recorded works, the NAB claims, "Other countries provide less copyright protection for sound recordings." Noting that U.S. copyright law generally protects sound recordings for 95 years, the NAB contends, "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 lost or will soon lose copyright protection."

The NAB also argues that while the creation of the U.S. broadcasting business was by "private commercial entrepreneurs," foreign broadcasting systems by and large benefit from being either owned and built or heavily subsidized by their governments.

The NAB's analysis will likely find its way into testimony before Rep. John Conyers' Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. Among those expected to make statements and be questioned are Smashing Pumpkins vocalist and lead guitarist Billy Corgan; RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol; Paul Almeida, president of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO; Stan Liebowitz, Ph.D., Ashbel Smith distinguished professor of managerial economics, University of Texas at Dallas; Patrick Communications president Larry Patrick; and Steve Newberry, chairman of the NAB Radio Board and CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting.

"The latest series of NAB talking points is just further evidence of how hard it is for corporate radio to defend the indefensible," musicFIRST executive director Jennifer Bendall told R&R. "The U.S. is the only country that is a member of the OECD that does not have a fair performance right on radio. Other countries that do not have a fair performance right include Iran, North Korea and China."

Bendall continued, "According to the NAB, this is OK because we spend comparatively less on public broadcasting than some of the OECD nations. But the NAB included TV and radio in its analysis. Leaving that aside, if we spent more on public radio in the U.S., would the NAB agree to a fair performance right on radio? We don't think so. No matter how you look at it, the corporate radio loophole is wrong. Faulty logic in a report cooked up on N Street [the street where NAB is based] can't make it right."