Senate PERFORMs for music biz

Introduces bill for digital transmission royalties

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday that would require satellite, cable and Internet broadcasters to pay the market price for digitally transmitting music.

The second introduction of the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act, or PERFORM Act, signals the importance some lawmakers put on the legislation.

"I believe this legislation is a good step forward in addressing a real problem that is occurring in the music industry, and I encourage discussion to ensure that this law will fully serve the needs of our emerging technologies," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said.

Senators Feinstein, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., pushed the same legislation last year, but opposition by traditional, satellite radio and Internet broadcasters killed it. Three of the four lawmakers sit on the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

"The PERFORM Act stalled in the last Congress," Feinstein said. "I am hopeful that the Judiciary Committee under Sen. Leahy's leadership will make time to examine this and other important intellectual property issues. This legislation is too important for it to languish for another Congress."

The RIAA, music publishers and musicians groups all support the bill, which would bring digitally transmitted music under the same royalty regime with a rate that mimics the "fair market value" an individual would pay in the open market. It also would require companies to use copyright-protection technology to ensure that works aren't stolen.

The bill's introduction triggered much rejoicing among music industry officials.

"This early play by Sen. Feinstein and her colleagues should leave no doubt that policymakers continue to view parity among digital music services as a top priority," RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol said. "Under the current system, satellite radio has been allowed to morph into a digital distribution service — shorting the creators of music, displacing licensed sales and threatening the integrity of the digital music marketplace in the process. We love satellite radio."