1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

PPL is behind Performance Rights Bill

Dominic McGonigal, Director of Government Relations, PPL has submitted the following post in response to earlier posts on this topic:
"Starting with a few inaccuracies, a previous post on this blog claims that PPL will be in a quandary if the USA introduces a broadcast right. On the contrary. A quick look at the facts reveals the opposite. PPL has been campaigning for a broadcast right in the USA from the start and will continue to the end.

It cannot be right that American, British or any other artist has their recordings used for free by American radio to create a $16bn industry. US radio stations have enjoyed a free ride for decades. It’s time now for fair play in the land of the free.

The lack of a broadcast right in the USA has had ripple effects beyond the States. It has meant that American artists have also lost out on overseas airplay royalties. But the picture is not straightforward. The failure of the USA to sign up fully to the international copyright treaties has produced anomalies as other countries have taken different approaches to this imbalance to international norms.

The UK’s approach has been to deny American performers rights to airplay royalties, but to allow sound recordings to be protected if they are released in a ‘Rome’ territory, in other words, most of the rest of the world where there is a broadcast right. In practice, US recordings are invariably released simultaneously (within 30 days) in a ‘Rome’ territory, generally Canada or the UK, and so gain protection. This means that US sound recordings are licensed by PPL for radio, but the American performers on those recordings do not get paid by PPL. Under UK legislation, the owner of the American sound recording is entitled to receive all the broadcast revenue for that recording so the PPL distribution goes direct to them.

Of course, all this will change when, we hope, the USA finally passes the Performance Rights Act. That will bring the USA up to international norms in the copyright treaties which will trigger reciprocal rights for American artists throughout the developed world. In the UK, American repertoire will be treated like any other, with revenue from a track split 50/50 between performers and record companies. For the first time, then, American artists on American recordings will be entitled to airplay royalties from PPL.

That is a fair result. Artists will get paid for their US airplay and American artists will finally benefit fully from their successes abroad – if their government passes the Performance Rights Act".

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