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Schiff Addresses Copyright Protection, Royalties at Music Expo

Rep. Adam Schiff had positive news for songwriters and composers about copyright protection and establishing a performance right royalty for songs played on terrestrial radio. The current federal budget allocates money for enforcement of a law enacted last year to strengthen protection of copyrighted material, Schiff told a crowd of several hundred people April 25 at the annual ASCAP Expo in Hollywood. Provisions pushed by Schiff in the law included grants for local and state law enforcement to go after intellectual property thieves and for additional FBI agents to investigate IP-related crimes. Schiff sits on the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of copyright, patent and trademark law, and information technology. His district includes Glendale and most of Burbank. This was the third year in a row that a Valley lawmaker appeared at the ASCAP Expo to discuss federal protection of the work of songwriters and composers. Schiff appeared last year and Rep. Howard Berman the year before that. When music became available in a digital format, it opened the door for illegal downloads over the Internet that resulted in severely damaging the music industry as revenues plummeted. Complicating matters is the antiquated system of compensation for composers, songwriters and performers, Schiff said. There is no consistency in payments when songs and music are shown in theaters or on television, on video-on-demand, or online downloads or streams, he added. “It’s not a system we would write if we were starting today,” Schiff said. A bill now pending before Congress would address one inequity music artists face lack of payment when songs they recorded are played on terrestrial radio. The language of the bill would have royalties divided between the record companies, the featured performer and the background singers. The bill, however, makes sure that in paying the performer there is no cut in the royalty paid to the songwriter. “We are trying to write a bill as specific as possible to protect the writers,” Schiff said. “We are going to keep a vigilant eye on it. We are going to have to rely on you to make sure there no downstream affects.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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