Today, music is everywhere, but this was not always the case. Listeners are surrounded by endless access to libraries and playlists from the advancement in technology. With the rapid technological advancements, Copyright law has been left behind at a stand still. Since the enactment of the Copyright Act, sound recordings have received less favorable treatment compared to their music counterpart. Sound recording copyrights are afforded digital performance royalties when broadcasted on popular Internet streaming services, like Pandora. In the last few years, music streaming has become more popular among listeners and thus, more sound recording royalties have been distributed; but, at a large cost to the services. The webcasters seek lower royalty rates for playing sound recordings, because they view their service as promotional. The sound recording copyright owners seek equality among all broadcasting services to receive fair compensation for every public performance, not merely digital. Recent bills have been introduced by both sides of this debate, but have yet to become law. The Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), backed by the webcasters, places a higher burden of proof on the sound recording owner to develop a royalty rate the services deem fair, which would undoubtedly lower rates. On the other side, the Free Market Royalty Act (FMRA) seeks a comparable royalty beyond digital transmissions to all broadcast services. Balancing the needs of both parties provide an avenue to create parity within the music industry and the law.
Rachael Stack, Streaming Into the Future: Why Legislation and Technology Have Opened Pandora’s Box for the Recording Industry and the Webcasting Services, 13 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 649 (2014)