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HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS
FULL COMMITTEE HEARING ON MUSIC LICENSING AND SMALL BUSINESS
Opening Statement of Glenn Poshard
May 8, 1995
Madame Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to address the issue of music licensing and its affect on our nation's small businesses.
The introduction of H.R. 789, The Fairness in Musical Licensing Act of 1995, at the beginning of the 104th Congress has opened a flood gate of concerns from a number of my constituents on both sides of this issue. In my district, I have small business owners claiming unfair practices by licensing agencies, while songwriters have come to me concerning their critical need to be fairly and appropriately compensated for their time and talent.
It is also my understanding that all the parties involved in this debate have been involved in serious negations for the past year in an attempt to resolve this matter without major changes to the current copyright laws. I ask that we look closely at this agreement and evaluate its merits.
Madame Chairman, I also wish to welcome our distinguished panel of speakers whom I am sure will inform and enlighten the members of our committee as to the concerns on both sides of this issue.
Statement of Representative William H. Zeliff, Jr.
before the Committee on Small Business
“Music Licensing and Small Business"
May 8, 1996
I would like to thank Chairwoman Meyers for holding this important hearing and would like to
welcome Steve Barba of The Balsams from Dixville
Notch, New Hampshire.
As a small business owner myself, with a country
inn in Jackson, NH, I know firsthand the arbitrary nature of music licensing fees. I want to emphasize from the outset that I fully endorse the necessity for strong intellectual property rights protection in the music industry. Those who compose and perform musical works have every right to receive compensation for their
At the same time, I am very concerned about evidence suggesting inconsistent, erratic and heavy
handed music license enforcement practices of leading
music licensing societies. Under current law creators of
music are allowed not only to collect fees at the source,
but also along each step of the way. Collecting
compensation from both a radio station that plays their
music and the local tavern that keeps the radio on as background music, for instance, is pure double-dipping.
Moreover, there is mounting evidence that the
enforcement of contracts with the holders of these music
copyrights resembles a monopoly. Increases have been demanded despite existing contract terms, only "blanket" licenses have been offered, and the existence of a single court of appeal discourages dispute resolution which can bankrupt a small business.
As a result of all this absurdity, I have worked closely with my colleague, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin, to make music licensing FAIR. Rep. Sensenbrenner's bill, H.R. 789 will allow
small businesses to play "incidental" or background music on radios or TVS without paying “licensing fees” (royalty fees paid to licensing organizations for the right to play music). Think about it, the last time you were at your favorite diner for breakfast and you hear Michael Jackson's latest hit song. Did you say to yourself, “Gee whiz, I hope this diner is paying Michael Jackson to play
pait this song while I eat my eggs!" I didn't think so.
Under current law, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and other music licensing organizations can demand payment for almost any music played in a place of business, be it live or rebroadcast, and no matter how many times it has already been paid. This means that if any diner, hair salon, or other small business plays a radio or a television, a licensing representative can demand a royalty. That goes for music coming over boom boxes, and cassette and CD
The bottom line is that there is no reason at all why small businesses across New Hampshire and the United States should have to pay just to have the radio playing in their hair salon or the TV on in a bar. It's just plain
not fair and it has to stop now
that is why I am
supporting and working to pass H.R. 789.
In closing, I would like to commend the National
Restaurant Association for their hard work and
dedication and to thank all Members of the Music
Licensing Fairness Coalition for addressing this issue of great importance to small business owners. I look
forward to the testimony.