Murray Bill Still in Committee as Letter-Writing Opposition Increases Pressure
Whoever said the wheels of government turn slowly (if, in fact anyone ever said that) wasn't kidding around.

Nearly five months after its introduction on January 7 in the California legislature, Senator Kevin Murray's SB 1246 has been re-referred to the Senate's judiciary committee after being amended a second time.

The Senator recently told HITS that the soonest the bill might come out of committee would be June 11. There's no telling when it might actually come to a vote.

The latest amendment adds the following text to the bill: "It is the intent of the Legislature to restore the rights, obligations, and remedies contained in Section 2855 of the Labor Code prior to its amendment by Chapter 591 of the Statutes of 1987." The 1987 amendment, of course, was that won by the RIAA to allow for labels to sue for damages in the event an artist vacates a contract pursuant to Section 2855, otherwise known as the seven-year statute.

To read the entire bill as it stands today, click here.

Meanwhile, the latest out of the Recording Artists Coalition indicates that talks between RAC representatives Jay Cooper, Irving Azoff and Jim Guerinot and the record labels have broken down. Even without a compromise with which to amend Murray's bill, however, RAC officials are said to feel confident that it will pass as is. And at least one industry observer has noted that having the Eagles play a fundraiser (as they did recently for California Governor Gray Davis) can't hurt your chances.

Sacramento handicappers, meanwhile, aren't so sure of the bill's prospects, noting that getting anything this controversial passed is easier said than done. And the opposition has been hard at work: The California Music Coalition, the group of record labels and industry workers launched in February to fight the Murray bill, has mounted a letter-writing campaign urging anyone who cares to put their name on a missive to their congresspeople in order to "help keep California's economy strong and protect jobs and opportunity for the tens of thousands of Californians who work in the recording industry."

The boilerplate provided for the letter on the CMC site (under "Take Action") states, "The recording industry in California is supported by thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of workers who contribute to the creation of the music and the production, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of CD's. It's those business and individuals who could be hurt if SB 1246 passes." It goes on to insist the effect would be long-term: "If artists are not required to live up to their end of an agreement - particularly once they're successful - the risk of investing in new ones will sharply increase. As a result, fewer investments will likely be made in California, and there will be less opportunity for new artists and all of the workers who depend upon this important industry."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that the RIAA has set up shop at various record companies for the purpose of encouraging letter-writing as well, with some employees saying they felt coerced to comply with requests to write Sacramento and became fearful of their jobs.

Apparently, this will now be a matter of lawmaker yeas and nays. But then that's what the yea-ers and nay-ers are there for, isn't it? Stay tuned.