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Entertainment and Media heavy hitters met this this past Tuesday at a congressional hearing before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet to discuss the state of music rights and potential changes. Of greatest concern was the industries’ need for new way to acquire and pay for music rights online, on the radio and on T.V. This has been a point of contention in the industry for sometime, especially for songwriters.

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In attendance were representatives from the Grammy Awards, BMI, and tech companies. All were advocating an update and overhaul of the current laws governing music rights arguing that some of the laws have not been updated since 1941. Current regulations have made it increasingly difficult for songwriters to earn a living through their craft. For example, Pandora pays record labels about 12 times the royalties that it pays for songwriters and Satellite and Web Radio stations don’t pay royalties for any songs made before 1972.

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The Songwriter Equity Act, recently introduced to Congress, would address some of these concerns by requiring the Copyright Royalty Board to recalculate how much songwriters are paid for song sales, making it more of a “fair market” standard. Currently the rate is 9.1 cents per song sale. That’s only about a 7-cent increase in rates since 1909. However, it is unclear how much movement the legislation will get in Congress.

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With new and innovative technologies developing all the time, an over haul may be warranted but no one can say when the changes will come. A second hearing is scheduled for June 25, 2014. We’ll keep you posted…

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