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CEA Urges Congress To Reject The Perform Act
By Mi2N
(more articles from this author)
2006-05-19
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The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) urged Congress to reject H.R. 5361, the PERFORM Act, introduced yesterday by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). The bill would sharply increase the rates paid to the recording industry by satellite radio listeners, and impose strict government technology mandates on the design of satellite radio receivers. The bill is a companion to Senate legislation authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

According to Michael Petricone, CEA's vice president of government affairs, "Satellite radio is one of the great American technology success stories of the 21st century. Sirius and XM provide 11 million Americans with exciting entertainment options, while opening new revenue and promotional opportunities for the record labels. The PERFORM Act will have a severe and harmful impact on these startup companies and their subscribers.

"The bill would suddenly change the rules to increase payments to the record industry, even though XM and Sirius already pay tens of millions in performance royalties to record labels, performers, songwriters and music publishers. Plus, the record labels get additional royalties for every receiver sold under the Audio Home Recording Act. This is in marked contrast to over the air radio broadcasters who make no payments to the record labels."

The bill has been introduced on the eve of arbitration negotiations between the satellite companies and the recording industry. According to Petricone, "Congress should let the arbitration process work instead of unilaterally imposing a new satellite radio tax on millions of Americans."

The PERFORM Act also requires government technology mandates to limit the recording capability of new XM and Sirius receivers. "Americans have been making noncommercial recordings off the radio for decades," Petricone pointed out. "This bill would turn back the clock on home recording. Indeed, if this bill applied to video content, your TiVO would be outlawed."

Petricone added, "The Feinstein-Berman approach results in massive interference with normal consumer behavior and turns the government into the 'playlist police.' This has absolutely nothing to do with piracy, P2P, or the Internet. This is all about limiting what consumers can do with their lawfully acquired content in their private homes and cars.

"Finally, while the PERFORM Act claims to harmonize rate setting standards, it really does nothing of the sort. Instead, it singles out one service - satellite radio - for punitive fees and technology mandates. It does not restrict recording from over-the air radio or webcasts, nor does it address the fact that terrestrial radio broadcasters pay no royalties under the law."

"Eleven million satellite radio listeners should be irate," Petricone concluded. "And all Americans should be concerned about continuing efforts by the recording industry to limit innovation and roll back fundamental home recording rights."

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