Aloha Music Friends,
I write to advise you that there is an important bill (SB1287) which will be heard before the Senate Committees on Judiciary and Labor and Commerce and Consumer Protection this coming Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 016.
SB1287 would recognize, for the first time in the State of Hawai`i, that Sound Recordings fixed prior to February 15, 1972 carry the full panoply of copyright rights including the right of public performance.
As many of you know, songwriters in the United States and abroad have long enjoyed a right of public performance in the songs they write. Accordingly, when their music is played in public places the songwriters are entitled to compensation which is generally collected through the various performance rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI and SEASAC. However, American recording artists and their record labels, unlike their counterparts in most other developed nations, have never enjoyed a full public performance right in the sound recordings they create. (A limited public performance right does exist under federal law in connection with the digital transmission of sound recordings.) In the past this manifestly unfair treatment of recording artists and record labels was justified on the basis that free radio and other play essentially advertised the sale of records. However, that view is now archaic in light of recent technological advances and changes in how people access and enjoy recorded music. Today, record sales in the form of CDs are in steep decline and are anticipated to all but disappear in the years ahead. Digital downloads are following suit as consumers abandon “ownership” of copies of music in favor of convenient and cheap “access” to music. As a result, revenue from digital music “sales” continue to fall as a percent of total music revenues while “license fees” (both statutory and negotiated) from music subscription and non-subscription services are sharply rising. The bottom line is that the old justification for not paying public performance fees in connection with sound recordings simply no longer exists.
It is now time to right a longstanding wrong and recognize, under Hawai`i law, that Sound Recordings carry the full panoply of copyright rights including the important full right of public performance. Passage of SB1287 would confirm that right.
I have attached hereto for your consideration my public testimony in support of SB1287 which sets forth a detailed analysis of the legal issues at play here. I respectfully ask that you review this material and that you support the passage of SB1287. In so doing you will be recognizing the value of Hawai`i’s musical heritage and you will be supporting Hawai`i’s older recording artists and their heirs.
You may submit testimony in support of SB1287 online by going here: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?bill&billnumber=1287&year=2015
Of course, I encourage everyone to support this measure by coming to Wednesday’s hearing and testifying in person. Additionally, I encourage you to become familiar with your legislators which are supporting this measure, and in the process Hawai`i’s creative community, and that you remember them when election day comes around.
Please forward this email to YOUR music friends! Thank you!
Very truly yours,
William G. Meyer, III | Principal – Intellectual Property
Main 808.540.2400 | Direct 808.534.4412 | Fax 808.694.3055
Pioneer Plaza – Suite 1800 | 900 Fort Street Mall | Honolulu, HI 96813