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the pending bills. Please remember that I'm a songwriter, not
a lawyer and not one of the business people who operate ASCAP on my behalf. I can't tell you the legal niceties, or the
operational details, but I do know unfairness when I see it,
and that's what I want to talk to you about.
exemption if they got music from radio broadcasts, and used it
to enhance the atmosphere of their places. First, they said
my music was just "incidental" to their business.
me say there isn't a songwriter alive who wakes up in the morning thinking "today I'll write some incidental music that
no one wants to pay for."
Go into any restaurant or tavern
and you'll see parsley on plates, pictures on walls, peanuts on bars, rugs on the floor, tablecloths on the tables. All
are incidental to the meal.
All are paid for.
And just as
they are paid for, music must be paid for.
of course, if the
music is so incidental to the meal that it is meaningless, the
"incidental" the music is to their business.
Then they said that the radio station had already paid
the restaurant owner was.
The restaurant owner
was using radio broadcasts in the same way that he would use
live musicians, to entertain the customers.
Only it costs him
less to do it that way.
Then they said that the existing law, which exempted
music use by home-style apparatus, was too vague and led to
too much litigation. That we agreed with. So we said (as did
bipartisan leadership of the Intellectual Property
Subcommittee), let's sit down together and work something out.
We made market
place offers to expand the "home-style"
We always have believed that this is a market
place dispute between the owners of property and the users of
property and should be decided in the market place.
got was a stone wall.
We addressed many other points as well
we offered a code of conduct for both sides' dealings with
group which had started the whole process, came to us and said
that they did want to work something out.
And, in the course
of a long hard day of bargaining, we and they reached an
agreement. It would clarify the law. And according to the Congressional Research Service, it would exempt almost 70% of
The only ones which would pay fees for radio and TV music would be places
the restaurants and taverns in this country.
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have reached, while not one, but two representatives of that
group for which an exemption of 70 plus percent of their
members isn't good enough, are here to complain.
One other major group behind this pernicious legislation is the Religious Broadcasters Music Licensing Committee. These
of religious format stations operating
commercial enterprises, which use
our music and are making
huge profits. Let me tell you just how huge.
The head of the
RBMLC, Ed Atsinger, owns 26 radio stations through his Salem
in a year.
In 1994, the ASCAP license fees for all the Salem
stations amounted to six-tenths of one percent of their gross
That's the nature of the businesses which believe
that by using the word religion they are somehow relieved of
their obligation to pay a fair fee. What is worse, to adopt the viewpoint of the religious broadcasters is to state unequivocally that Christian music is to be valued less than
other forms of music.
We can never accept that premise.
And don't let them fool you
ASCAP royalties are paid for what's
performed on radio to those whose works are performed, and
those who write Christian music are paid for the performances
of their music.
Yet what is it that these owners of profitable commercial
broadcasting enterprises want? First, they want a complete exemption for the use of music in "religious services" which
all types of radio stations and never mind that they make a
lot of money from those broadcasts.
Why is Christian music
worth less than other music? I surely don't think that it is, yet that is what they are telling you. Then, they want to
force ASCAP to offer a new form of license agreement because
they want to pay even less for the music they do use.
mind that they're seeking the same relief in federal court in
a case to be tried in four months and evidently can't wait for
My music is all I've got. It's what I rely on to feed my family, to pay my bills, to provide for my retirement. It is my property. The owners of the restaurants and religious
stations testifying before you want to pass legislation that
amounts to a "taking" of my property. Surely this Congress in
particular believes in market place solutions.
Congress in particular is opposed to the taking of private The representatives of these organizations complain about cost. Yet what they pay is a pittance. I think it's clear where fairness lies, and I hope that you won't let these