Watermelon Day And Other Tales From Capitol Hill

June 30, 2009 -- 1:43 pm PDT

Daryl P. Friedman's picture
Daryl P. Friedman

Last week, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) announced a new total number of co-sponsors (236) for "The Local Radio Freedom Act." They are calling this figure a triumph against those of us who support a fair performance royalty for artists on the radio. One of their trade publications went so far as to say our campaign is over.

However, what the NAB isn't saying is that their "bill" is not actually real legislation. Rather, it is a non-binding resolution, meaning that even if it passed Congress (which it won't) it would have no force of law.

Compare that to The Performance Rights Act, the bill The Recording Academy is backing. Our bill is sponsored by eight House Committee Chairmen and has bipartisan support. When passed, it will alter copyright law to remove the "corporate radio loophole." AM and FM radio, like every other platform that uses the work of artists to build its business, will have to start compensating those whose work they use. This bill was just sent to the House floor for a vote and the Senate is expected to take action this summer; momentum is on our side and a desperate NAB needed a stunt.

Which brings me to Watermelon Day...

Non-binding resolutions are generally "easy" for legislators to sponsor since they are, well, non-binding. I recall coming across recent resolutions such as "A sense of the House concerning education about Guam," "Dog Bite Prevention Resolution," and of course, the establishment of "Annual Watermelon Day."

Now, I don't mean to trivialize Guam, pet safety, or summer fruit, but I'm just trying to put the NAB's resolution in context. It is a talking point for their members. But when Congress comes back from the July 4 recess, our Performance Rights Act is one of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's priorities. Our bill continues to move forward.

Happy Independence Day, advocates. And come Saturday, don't forget the watermelon!