POLITICS: PennAve

Senators call for songwriters to receive market-based compensation for their songs

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Congress,Music,Senate,Tennessee,PennAve,Sean Lengell,Lamar Alexander,Bob Corker,Orrin Hatch,Technology,Nashville

Three senior Senate Republicans introduced legislation Monday that would give songwriters more royalty money for their tunes.

The measure, cosponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee and Orrin Hatch of Utah, would remove government restrictions and allow songwriters to be compensated for the fair market value of their work.

The trio announced their bill Monday at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn., accompanied by songwriters Roxie Dean, Lee Thomas Miller, Tom Douglas and Rivers Rutherford.

"Italy has its art, Egypt has its pyramids, Napa Valley has its wines and Nashville has its songwriters," Alexander said. "Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City, and their paychecks ought to be based on the fair market value of their songs -- so that when they write a hit heard around the world, you can see it in their billfolds."

Hatch, who has written songs in his spare time, said that since the music business is one of the "toughest industries out there," songwriters and composers shouldn’t have to accept "artificially low royalty rates" for their works.

"Allowing them to receive the fair market value for their songs is the right thing to do," he said.

The measure would direct the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are sold, such as through music downloads over the Internet and CD purchases, replacing the current below-market standard.

It also would remove a federal law that narrows the scope of evidence the board may examine when asked to set songwriter compensation for when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert.

The rate of compensation that is set by the board has increased only 7 cents over 100 years, and is currently 9.1 cents per song, the senators said.

"As technology advances, it’s important we not forget the sometimes unsung heroes of the music industry — the songwriters — and modernize the way they are compensated for their talents," Corker said.

A similar House measure was introduced in February by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.

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