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Portnow on defeat of IRFA

THE END OF AN ACT: Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow sent a note to members this morning declaring victory—in the defeat by Congress of the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA). The bill, championed by Pandora, Clear Channel and others invested in streamcasting, would have resulted in the shaving of royalty rates for online radio. “[IRFA] would reduce creator compensation by as much as 85%,” Portnow’s letter reads. In his remarks before a Congressional hearing in November, NARAS Chair Emeritus Jimmy Jamspoke passionately and convincingly about the need for fair compensation for performers, songwriters and studio professionals,” notes Portnow. “He not only made the case for maintaining fair compensation on Internet radio, but also drove home the need for a performance right for artists on AM/FM as well.” Apparently the outcry by members and others swayed the 112th Congress, which just concluded (after voting “yes” on another piece of legislation you might’ve heard about) without passing IRFA; Portnow now calls the law “officially defeated.” He furthermore proclaims, “No doubt we’ll face bad legislation again in the future. But we know if we make our voices heard, we can ensure music policy is fair to those who create music.” What’s next for advocates of a different royalty structure? Can Internet radio survive as a business without an overhaul—legislative or otherwise--of the current compensation system? We’d love to guess, but we don’t even really understand how e-mail works. (1/3p)

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