"The recent release by the RIAA was misleading and contradictory. It is clear that the artist community is extremely upset."
——Sen. Kevin Murray

RIAA, RAC GET NASTY

Sen. Murray "Sets the Record Straight" About State of Artist-Label Negotiations
Here’s hoping the baseball owners and players are closer than these guys.

After ongoing negotiations aimed at hammering out a compromise position on California’s seven-year statute, talks between RIAA and Recording Artists Coalition reps broke down last week, prompting the RIAA to enumerate the details of what it claimed to be the deal so far.

RIAA Chairman Hilary Rosen expressed frustration, saying the only issue holding up a compromise was the artist reps’ insistence that any changes be made retroactive. After issuing a press release detailing what the RIAA characterized as "dramatic concessions"—including limiting damages a label can seek if an artist walks after seven years—Rosen alleged that the retroactivity issue contradicted the artists’ position of fighting for new artists, and that it was brought up only after an otherwise complete deal was hammered out.

But the artists’ side insists no such deal is in place, and both RAC reps and CA Senator Kevin Murray, author of the bill proposing to change the seven-year statute, fumed at the RIAA going public. "Unfortunately, they decided to use the press to negotiate," said attorney and RAC rep Jay Cooper. "We are a couple of major issues apart, and I don’t know whether we’ll settle or not."

RAC founder Don Henley went further, reportedly saying artists would now "go for a straight repeal" of the statute’s damages clause.

Following this flurry of statements, Rosen struck a conciliatory tone, saying, "I empathize with the RAC’s problems. Whatever deal they get will be criticized [by members of the artist community]. I’m sympathetic with how tough it is."

But on Tuesday (8/12), Murray released a statement purporting to "set the record straight" about the state of artist-label negotiations: "The recent release by the RIAA was misleading and contradictory. It is clear that the artist community is extremely upset. For the RIAA to present their demands as compromises or concessions was an insult to the recording artists, attorneys and managers that have been working for months to resolve this issue. Every one of the points are what the labels wanted—NOT the artists. It’s no secret that the artists have argued that a straight repeal of section (b) would be the simplest way to solve the problem," he said.

And to Rosen’s suggestion that he had "cherry-picked" the negotiated deal, Murray said, "The current version of SB1246 does in fact have some of the provisions discussed between the artists and the labels. The main provision is clarity on damages, which has been what the labels contend they wanted all along. It’s only when you have a deal that you put what everyone wanted in the bill. This is clearly not where we are, and talks have [faltered]."

Reacting to Murray’s statement, Rosen had this to say: "A straight repeal of the bill was never going to fly, and everyone knew it. Based on Sen. Murray’s comments today, I don’t know what we have been doing for the past six months. I thought we were looking for a good-faith compromise."

Meanwhile, the Murray bill must make it through two Assembly committees before a final vote in the Senate. Only three weeks remain in the current California legislative session.

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