If you listen to Pandora internet radio, you probably got a message yesterday from the service’s founder Tim Westergren, asking subscribers to support the Performance Rights Act. That’s the proposed law that would require terrestrial radio stations to pay performance royalty fees to the artists whose music they broadcast.
“The system as it stands today is fundamentally unfair both to Internet radio services like Pandora,” Westergren wrote to subscribers, “which pay higher royalties than other forms of radio, and to musical artists, who receive no compensation at all when their music is played on AM/FM radio.”
At present streaming services do have to pay performance royalty fees. This week, Sound Exchange, the non-profit that sets the fee rates, released new terms that most observers say will be less onerous on streamers.
“We, along with the artists whose music we play, strongly support the establishment of a level playing field, a truly fair system,” Westergren’s subscriber letter concludes.
Most commercial broadcasters strongly oppose the PRA, as do college radio stations. At present the bill is reported out of the House Committee on the Judiciary. A parallel law is still in committee in the Senate. Over-the-air broadcasters are pushing a counter resolution in the House that would prohibit imposing performance fees on their stations.
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