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Hold On, I’m Coming: Reactions to the Turtles/Sirius Ruling on Unlicensed Use of Pre-72 Recordings #respectallmusic

September 24, 2014 3 comments

Reactions to the Turtles crushing defeat of Sirius are coming in, here are a few:

Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave) said it best:

Winners never quit and quitters never win.  The recording artists of the pre-72 era are winners and we are not quitting until it’s all made right for every single one of us.

It’s a good day for artists, musicians, songwriters and labels whose life’s work was infringed by Sirius.

Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield):

“Today we are one step closer to pre-1972 music creators receiving fair pay. The ruling against Sirius XM for playing, but not paying Flo & Eddie (aka The Turtles), is a victory in music licensing history.”

T Bone Burnett:

“It is good that a federal judge made clear that online and mobile music services that have pre- 1972 recordings on their playlists should pay the artists who created these recordings. This decision puts in high relief how arbitrary the idea of 1972 is as a dividing line. If Aretha Franklin is driving listeners to a digital music service, she should share in the revenue that is generated.”

The incomparable Martha Reeves:

“This music is our legacy, and we are grateful that the court in California has acknowledged that artists have the right to be compensated when it is used by digital radio services.”

And Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad:

“The Court’s ruling in favor of the Turtles makes it clear that all recordings are worthy of protection.  It’s a matter of simple fairness and I am delighted that legacy artists are being heard by our justice system. Thanks to the Turtles for bringing this issue front and center.  Now more than ever it’s clear that Congress should pass the RESPECT Act, which clearly and fairly makes sure that ALL artists are treated fairly by digital radio.”

Earlier this year, SoundExchange joined with a coalition of artists in launching Project72, a campaign to ensure fair compensation for those who recorded music before 1972 and in support of H.R. 4772, the RESPECT Act. We’ve discussed Project 72 and the RESPECT Act previously on MTP:

Mike Huppe, CEO of SoundExchange:

“This decision in California confirms what we have always known: all sound recordings have value, and all artists deserve to be paid fairly for the use of their music. It does not – and should not — matter whether those recordings are protected by state or federal law.

While we are thrilled with the Turtles’ legal victory, it’s unfortunate that artists and labels were forced to pursue litigation just to receive fair payment for their art. Legacy artists like the Turtles built the foundation of music today – music that helps Sirius XM make billions of dollars a year – and it is outrageous that some digital radio services believe they can use the music of legacy artists for free.

It is clear now more than ever that Congress should quickly move to pass the RESPECT Act.  The bill, introduced by Representatives George Holding (R-NC) and John Conyers (D-MI), would require digital radio services to pay royalties to pre-1972 artists when their music is played. The RESPECT Act would also give Sirius XM, Pandora, and other services an easy and efficient way to get the rights that the federal court in the Turtles case has confirmed they need – and to give the artists the payment they deserve.”

It’s as well to remember an important passage from the Copyright Office’s report on pre-72 sound recordings:

The [Copyright] Office thinks it is unreasonable for the age of a sound recording to dictate whether royalties are paid on public performances by means of digital audio transmissions, so long as copyright subsists in that sound recording.

Looks like the Turtles made that so.

Help Project 72 Close the Pandora Loophole and #respectallmusic

July 17, 2014 9 comments

Pandora and Sirius have decided to stop paying performance royalties to artists, producers and background performers who recorded before 1972–in other words, the creators (and their heirs) of the greatest music that influenced us all.  Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Jack Teagarden, Johnny Winter and everyone in 20 Feet from Stardom. Just to name a few.  The Pandora loophole hurts American artists the worst (because Pandora’s pals at the NAB keep US artists from being paid overseas).

The Pandora loophole is due to a gotcha in the US copyright law–the Pandora loophole–that supposedly does not extend the SoundExchange royalty to recordings made before 1972 because the U.S. did not adopt federal copyright protection for sound recordings until 1972.  The only problem with Pandora’s position is that there are lots of Members of Congress still in office who passed the 1995 and 1998 laws that created the SoundExchange royalty–and there is no Member of Congress who thought that they were creating a loophole so that Pandora and Sirius could stiff these legacy artists and their heirs.

This means that if you record a cover of Voodoo Child today, you will get paid by Pandora as a performer but Jimi Hendrix will not.

I know what you’re thinking–who in their right mind would want to stiff old guys and dead cats?

There’s a one-word answer to that question.

The good news is that there’s something you can do about it.  If you respect all music, call your U.S. Senator and Member of Congress and ask them to support the RESPECT Act (bill number HR 4772)  sponsored by Reps. George Holding and John Conyers.  With your help, we can all close the Pandora loophole and play fair with the people who taught us how to swing and showed us how to rock.

Please take a minute to look up your Member of Congress in House of Representatives.  There are 435 Members of Congress, and you have one of them.  If you don’t know already who that is, go to this link and look in the upper right hand corner of the webpage under “Find Your Representative”.

So you get one Representative and your state gets two Senators (regardless of population).  The website for the U.S. Senate is www.senate.gov.  There is a list of them at this link.  Locate yours, and it’s the same drill.

Two phone calls and two emails.

Ask them to stand with you and #respectallmusic.

In the words of Sam & Dave, “And I Thank You.”

 

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