IMPALA urges US to adopt radio performance royalties to create ‘level playing field’
Just as the American Music Fairness Act was introduced in the US Congress, IMPALA, the Brussels-based indie label trade organization urged the US to follow it EU counterparts and require radio stations to pay performance roayalties.
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On the eve of the June 15 US-EU summit, Brussels-based trade organisation representing the independent labels’ community IMPALA has urged the United States “to bring its national legislation into line with the EU” by ensuring the radio stations in the US pay performance rights on sound recordings.
“In Europe these rights are guaranteed under law, implementing international copyright conventions. In the USA, there is no protection for performers and producers when music is played on terrestrial radio or television or in public places such as malls, bars and cafes,” said IMPALA in a statement.
The organisation states that international copyright rules “enshrine the reciprocity principle,” which creates “a level playing field as performers and producers need protection in their home country to be able to claim revenues in another country.” For IMPALA, this is “vital as it raises the level of protection generally.”
Importance of reciprocity
“The United States is unique in the world as the only major music market not providing performers and labels with income from the playing of music on terrestrial radio and in public places,” said Kees van Weijen, President of IMPALA and chair of STOMP in the Netherlands. “Reciprocity remains an important tool to convince the US to bring their legislation up to the level of the European Union and create a true level playing field for the European and American music industry.”
A decision from the European Court of Justice of September 2020 flagged that the principle of reciprocity now needs to be specific in legislation and ruled that artists eligible for neighbouring rights in Europe should not be discriminated against based on their country of origin.
“Without fixing that, European collecting societies for producers and performers would have to pay to countries who don’t provide for reciprocal rights for their own territory,” states IMPALA, estimating that for the USA alone, the amount at stake exceeds €125 million annually.
Urgency to fix the situation
IMPALA said it looks to the EU “to fix this situation urgently so that EU member states can continue to decide individually for themselves whether they want to apply this principle, as they have been able to for decades.”
“We need to urgently reinforce reciprocity of treatment otherwise huge sums will now have to be paid across the Atlantic for US sound recordings with little in return in respect of EU recordings played or performed in the USA. Now is not the time to lose 125m euros per year,” said Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA, who added that the issue was “ultimately about maximum protection for all.”