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Berman aims for royalties, with discounts

In a news release today (download here), Rep. Howard Berman (D-North Hollywood) said he plans to introduce a bill in October requiring local radio stations to pay expanded royalties for the music they play. Over-the-air stations have paid royalties only to songwriters and music publishers, who hold copyrights in the compositions, and not to artists and labels, who hold copyrights in the recordings.

The measure is sure to trigger a fierce lobbying battle, with both the National Assn. of Broadcasters and a coalition of artists and labels already firing salvos in Washington. Today, Berman sought to lower the heat a bit. His release promised "significant" discounts "and other accommodations" for small and religious broadcasters. "Under the legislation that we are crafting, a large majority of all radio stations will receive special accommodations," Berman said. Of course, judging from SoundExchange's stance on webcasting royalties, the music industry's definition of a significant discount isn't likely to be the same as the broadcasters'. 

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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