SoundExchange Celebrates A Decade Of Digital Performance Rights By Gathering Some Of The Leaders Who Helped Pass The Digital Performance Right In Sound Recordings Act
SoundExchange celebrates a decade of digital performance rights by gathering some of the leaders who helped pass the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act ("DPRA"). Ten years ago, on February 1, 1996, the DPRA went into effect. The DPRA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1995 and became effective February 1, 1996. This piece of legislation gave the copyright owners of sound recordings (usually record labels) a limited public performance right for certain digital transmissions of their recordings and divided royalties evenly between labels and performers. SoundExchange was created to collect and distribute these royalties. So far, SoundExchange has distributed almost $32 million dollars in performance royalties.
While the DPRA was a major step forward for artists and record companies in the United States, U.S. copyright owners and performers are still not paid when their recordings are used by radio and television stations, stadiums, and other commercial establishments that use music, unlike their counterparts in the rest of the world. U.S. copyright owners and performers often are unable to collect royalties from foreign countries that use U.S. music, overwhelmingly, due to our absence of these rights.
The digital performance right in the U.S. was a good beginning, but the next step is to secure a full performance right that will correct this international imbalance and allow performers and copyright owners to collect their foreign royalties. A full performance right also will ensure a level playing field for music services in the U.S., where currently certain digital services like XM and SIRIUS satellite radio and webcasters like Live 365, AOL and MSN must pay royalties, but other broadcasters, like traditional radio and television stations are allowed to earn huge profits from playing recordings without compensating artists and labels.
Many influential artists, labels, representatives and organizations were involved in the struggle to obtain the performance right established in the DPRA. Some of the players involved gathered in front of the Capitol for a photo and to reminisce about the decade-old event. They were: Cary Sherman (now: president of the RIAA, then: RIAA's legal counsel at Arnold & Porter), Jay Berman (then: chairman/CEO of the RIAA), Hilary Rosen (then: president and COO of the RIAA), John L. Simson (now: executive director of SoundExchange, then: manager and artist advocate), Patricia Polach, Esq. (now and then: American Federation of Musician's associate general counsel at Bredhoff & Kaiser) and Barry Bergman (now and then: president of the Music Managers Forum – US).
SoundExchange's Executive Director John L. Simson said, "Ten years ago when I was approached to enlist the support of artists and managers I never dreamed that I would be running the organization that administers the rights we obtained. When my staff and I receive thanks from artists like Jimmy Merchant (of Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers), Yvonne Elliman, Kristine W., Mary Wilson and so many others we are determined not only to serve them but to obtain for them what should be rightfully theirs. It is easy to see that songwriters, with a full performance right, can retire with royalties as their annuity, while most performers, without this right, must tour until they die."
"In looking back ten years, securing a digital performance right has been a great success. Looking forward over the next few years, I am convinced it will be an even more significant element in the music industry of the future," commented former RIAA CEO Jay Berman.
RIAA President Cary Sherman added, "The establishment of a performance right was an important accomplishment ten years ago, but with the challenges facing the music industry today, it has become even more significant. Creators need a diverse array of revenue streams so they can continue to create. The DPRA is producing real benefits to artists and labels, with SoundExchange distributing meaningful compensation to an ever-widening group of recipients. Now everybody needs to make sure that all of the artists and labels they know are registered with SoundExchange, so that all of them can receive the rewards they deserve for their creative labors."
"Performers want to reach music fans whether it be through 'listens' or 'buys,'" said Patricia Polach, AFM's general counsel, "But either way they must receive fair compensation to survive as creators. Without them, the businesses built on their music could not exist. The AFM salutes all its allies in the fight for a digital performance right ten years ago and for a full performance right today."
MMF-US President Barry Bergman stated, "Testifying before a Congressional subcommittee on behalf of recording artists about the critical need for a performance right was a personal career highlight, and has evolved 10 years later into artists having collectively received millions of dollars for the use of their performances in digital media, such as satellite and Internet radio. The MMF-US looks forward to helping artists obtain a full public performance right in the future by bringing the US into parity with the rest of the developed world, where artists receive royalties when their performances are played on the radio."
Over the coming months SoundExchange will host a variety of events, designed to highlight its search for the many deserving artists and sound recording copyright owners who are owed royalties pursuant to these rights and to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the DPRA.
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