The American Music Fairness Act (“AMFA”) has been re-introduced in the Senate for this Congress. Sen. Padilla (D-CA) introduced the bill (S.253) earlier this month, along with Sens. Blackburn (R-TN), Tillis (R-NC), and Feinstein (D-CA). The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee, on which every cosponsor serves. Further, Sen. Tillis serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, which oversees copyright issues.
AMFA would amend the Copyright Act to provide public performance rights for terrestrial transmissions of sound recordings. Specifically, the bill would amend Section 106(6) of the Copyright Act, which provides copyright owners with the exclusive right to publicly perform sound recordings via “digital audio transmission,” by deleting the word “digital.” AMFA also attempts to address some criticisms that faced similar predecessor bills. For example, AMFA proposes flat fees for certain nonsubscription broadcast transmissions by public or smaller commercial stations, and provides that other fees would be set in rate-setting proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board. Such rate-setting proceedings would take account of economic, competitive, and programming information, as well as whether transmissions substitute for or promote record sales, and whether they interfere with or enhance other revenue streams for sound recording owners.
While last Congress the House Judiciary Committee approved this legislation by a voice vote, no companion legislation has been introduced in the House yet. Notably, however, co-sponsors of that prior House bill included Rep. Issa (R-CA), who recently became the Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, as well as Rep. Nadler (D-NY), who is now Ranking Member of the full Committee. With bipartisan support of members on the relevant Committees of jurisdiction, AMFA is potentially one of the few pieces of legislation that could move in a divided Congress.