Discovery Networks Backtracks On Its Controversial Plan to Ditch Performance Royalties

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Discovery, the parent company of several prominent television channels, faced considerable backlash from composer rights groups after it revealed a plan to cease paying U.S. performance royalties to composers. However, after facing howls of protest, the company has abandoned its plan to eliminate U.S. performance royalties for composers.

In December, Discovery revealed a new royalty-distribution system, which would have replaced royalties traditionally paid to composers whose works are used in television with one-off payments. While this is entirely legal under U.S. Copyright Law, it could drastically reduce composer royalties. Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), which are in the business of administering complex performance royalties, also stirred into action.

Discovery’s plan would have allowed composers to continue receiving foreign royalties, which are exponentially less lucrative than American royalties. Additionally, the company made it clear that those who didn’t agree to the deal would see their works removed from shows and replaced. This ultimatum may have helped to spur and coordinate the opposition movement, which unified and applied ample pressure to Discovery execs.

As a result of the criticisms and quick-moving negotiations, Discovery shelved the proposed arrangement. In a statement, the Production Music Association (PMA), which has “670 music publisher and composer members” to its credit and was involved in negotiations, acknowledged that Discovery’s channels “will remain operating as is under the traditional PRO performing rights model.”

Your Music, Your Future, a composer-rights organization, also played a significant role in convincing Discovery to abide by existing royalty standards. The self-described “growing community of over 11,445 composers and creators” is backed by some of the biggest composers in the entertainment industry, including Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel) and Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead).

Discovery owns and operates Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel, TLC, Food Network, HGTV, and Travel Channel, among others. When it was announced that the company wouldn’t be using the traditional rights-focused model, its stock, traded under the symbol DISCA, dropped from over $32 per share to less than $30 per share.

The decision to abandon the plan was a significant win for composer rights groups, who believe it is essential for composers to receive fair compensation for their work. Music is a vital component of television and other media, and composers should be compensated for their contributions to the success of these shows.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement in support of composer rights. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, there has been an explosion in the demand for original music. However, many of these services have been slow to recognize the importance of composer rights, and there have been numerous cases of composers being underpaid or not compensated at all for their work.

Composer rights groups are working to change this by advocating for fair compensation and greater recognition for composers. They are also working to educate the public about the importance of composer rights and the role that music plays in enhancing the viewing experience.

In conclusion, Discovery’s decision to abandon its plan to eliminate U.S. performance royalties for composers is a significant win for composer rights groups. It is a step in the right direction towards fair compensation for composers and greater recognition of the importance of music in television and other media. Composers deserve to be compensated for their contributions, and composer rights groups will continue to work towards achieving this goal.

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