As the calendar year draws to a close, we have some welcome news coming from atop the Hill. It looks as if we’ll avoid another squabble-induced government shutdown, because negotiators in the house have managed to bring forward an omnibus appropriations bill. What’s more, the bill contains some significant new year good news for musicians and music fans. Happy holidays to us all!read more
Net neutrality. It’s an issue that impacts musicians, which is why FMC is so on top of it. By now, it’s obvious that today’s artists rely on the Internet for practically every aspect of their lives and careers. Net neutrality simply ensures that we can reach audiences and grow our businesses without discrimination from big companies like Comcast and Verizon.
Today, House Republicans approved legislation that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from implementing its Open Internet Order—rules set to go into effect this Friday, June 11. The worst part about this Congressional malarkey is that it is tucked into an appropriations bill that includes a whole bunch of other stuff that has nothing to do with net neutrality. read more
Post co-authored by FMC policy intern Bryce Cashman
A new bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives that we hope will have a positive impact on the music community. On March 19, 2015, Reps. Joe Crowley(D-NY) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced the Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP, H.R. 1457)—legislation that would make it easier for producers to receive a percentage of digital performance royalties. read more
Lots of news in net neutrality-land over the past couple of weeks. In fact, there’s so much going on right now, that’s its kind of hard to summarize. But we’ll give it a shot.
As you may recall, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler recently revealed that the agency would bring new net neutrality rules to a vote on February 26. In a January 7 interview at the Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas, Wheeler hinted that the rules would be crafted under Title II of the Telecommunications Act—something that FMC and our artist allies have pushed for because they offer the greatest degree of protections for musicians and other content producers, within the strongest legal framework.
That same day, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) reintroduced legislation—the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act—that would unambiguously authorize the FCC to issue net neutrality rules under whatever framework the Commission deems appropriate. (Check out the details in our legislation tracker.)
House Republicans are rumored to be crafting their own bill, which for the first time would recognize the need to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from discriminating against lawful online content. This is significant in the sense that it represents a sea change for a party that has long fought against any form of net neutrality. However, it is likely that the proposed legislation is really just a way to stall the FCC from doing what it should and must do: issue clear rules of the road under the light-touch regulatory framework that is Title II.
In other words, this bill might make ginormous ISPs like Comcast happy, but it’s not what is needed to ensure that artists and independent labels have a shot at reaching audiences on their own terms. If Congress is to write a law enshrining net neutrality—which has always been in its purview—the legislation would have to mirror what the FCC already has complete and total authority to do under Title II. So once again to quote Public Enemy: don’t believe the hype. (And tell your Congresspersons not to, either.)
Probably the biggest news this week is a letter to the FCC from mobile telecommunications provider Sprint saying that light-touch regulation under a Title II framework will not harm investment or deployment. This is huge, especially considering the misinformation that has been spread by other telcos about reclassification under Title II—including made-up stories about higher taxes that have been soundly and routinely debunked.
By Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate, and Maria-Teresa Roca de Togores, Policy Intern
This week’s midterm elections have come and gone, and while turnout was low (as is often the case in midterms), the resulting shift in the balance of power may impact what music-related issues are on the congressional agenda for the next two years. read more
Yesterday (June 25, 2014), the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held yet another hearing in its ongoing review of existing copyright law. (Our full recap is here; check out our coverage of the full series of hearings here.) Today, we’ll focus on one particular topic that has come up repeatedly in Congress and elsewhere: the lack of federal copyright protections for recordings made before February 15, 1972. read more
On May 7, 2014, Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4588, the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act [PDF], which aims to get performers and labels paid when their music is played on AM/FM radio.
This proposed legislation is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it demonstrates the growing bipartisan consensus that performing artists deserve compensation when their music is used in over-the-air broadcasts. Second, it shows how members of Congress who have disagreed on many issues—including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—can come together to do the right thing by creators.
If you’re a copyright nerd (wait, you’re not?), you may have come across the issue of “pre-’72s.” In a nutshell, recordings made before February 15, 1972 are not protected by federal law, which can complicate how—or whether—royalties are paid for certain uses, like plays on internet or satellite radio.
Many people are unaware that there wasn’t even a copyright for recordings until 1972. Well, that’s not entirely true—some sound recordings made before ’72 are copyrighted at the state level. Still, federal protections are relatively new. At least when compared to compositions, which have been protected since the early 1800s (public performances of musical works came under federal law in 1897).
Debates about pre-’72 recordings might seem arcane, but there are major implications for today’s music ecosystem. First there’s artist compensation. The absence of a performance right for pre-’72s means that there’s no guarantee that recording artists are going to get paid fairly for the use of their work when played on Internet or satellite radio. (AM/FM broadcasters aren’t obligated to pay performers anything, though they do pay songwriters; more info on this crazy loophole here.) The lack of federal recognition also makes it more complicated for services to obtain a license to play music—and where there is no permission, there’s potential liability.
On February 3, 2013, Democratic leaders in the US House of Representatives and Senate introduced companion bills to preserve a level online playing field. The move follows a recent court ruling that threw out the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 Open Internet Order establishing basic rules of the road for Internet Service Providers (ISPs). These rules are meant to prevent the very few companies that provide Internet service from blocking or discriminating against lawful content based on business or other preferences.