US Senate Initiates the CLASSICS Act to Finally Get Oldies Artists Paid

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A massive copyright loophole is now getting the attention of a bipartisan group of US Senators.  Introducing the CLASSICS Act — Senate version.

It’s called the ‘Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act,’ and its starting to stick.  It even has a nifty moniker: the CLASSICS Act, not to mention bipartisan support.

The bill was initiated by a bipartisan group of senators.  The intro group features John Kennedy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).  That panel officially introduced the bill into Congress this week.

If passed, the CLASSICS Act would finally close a major loophole in US Copyright law.  The loophole effectively left oldies  artists out of the royalty pie for digital radio plays, specifically on platforms like Pandora and Sirius XM.

Under the federal law, only sound recordings made after 1972 are eligible to receive payments from digital radio services.   The rest defaults to state laws, which has opened a smattering of seemingly endless litigation.

Amidst the back-and-forth, this harsh reality stands: federal copyright protection doesn’t extend to legacy artists who recorded music before February 15, 1972.  That’s ultimately an arbitrary cut-off date, but formally marks the date upon with the US started recognizing a federal recording copyright.

Accordingly, the CLASSICS Acts is going to address the jumble of laws in different jurisdictions.  It will fix this flaw by creating a new federal intellectual property regime to cover these pre-1972 sound recordings.

How To Get Your Copyrights Back From Your Label or Publisher

Actually, this is a companion bill to the version introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year (H.R. 3301) by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.)

Scores of artists and stakeholders from across the internet and music are welcoming the development.

The legislation has the backing of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Pandora, along with SoundExchange.  SoundExchange would handle the distribution of royalties for the pre-1972 recordings, so this legislation would dramatically improve their cash inflows.

“This legislation erases an arbitrary and artificial line current policy draws between pre- and post-1972 recordings, and rightfully provides compensation for some of America’s most treasured music,” said Michael Huppe, President and CEO of SoundExchange

“It is emblematic of the growing demand for comprehensive copyright reform, including market-based rate standards and a performance right for sound recordings across all platforms including AM/FM radio.”



2 Responses

  1. Tony Gottlieb

    Of course, this wouldn’t have had ANYTHING to do with the Tennessee State Legislature’s Judd Matheny (HB1603) & Mark Green (SB1792) filing a pre72 Digital performance rights bill on the 17th & 23rd January, fixing the problem if this didn’t move. NOOOOO!!!! NOOOO!!! NOOOO!!!
    How much more F.O.S. could these guys be?
    Let’s get it passed.

  2. Tony Gottlieb

    They should proceed to pass the TN State pre72 Sound Recording digital performing rights bill regardless, as it provides some basis to recover damages and it won’t have to contend with the ridiculous “safe harbor” nonsense.
    This has been going on for almost 20 years and NOW all of a sudden they’re moving it in the US Senate. #pulleeeze