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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

players too.

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

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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.

Statement of


On behalf of the

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My name is Pat Alger, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, I

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Composers, Authors and Publishers, and I serve as President of

the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

I have

attached a biography to my statement which lists some of the

songs I have written over the years, songs I hope the members

of the Committee have enjoyed.

I am proud to say that I have

been an ASCAP member for many years.

It is fitting that I testify before this Small Business

Committee, because I am about the smallest businessman you can


Songwriting is my profession and my livelihood.


what I have to say applies to just about every songwriter you

can think of, from the most successful to the rank beginner.

I say I am a very small businessman because I have no one

(other than my co-writers)

to help me

earn my way in the


I have no staff, no secretary, no factory, no office.

The intangible "product" that I create

comes solely from my

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