In an era of boundless technological advancement, the music industry faces its most turbulent economic landscape to date. The sustainability of the industry relies on the emergence of an innovative strategy to adapt music’s business model and continue to incentivize the creation and performance of brilliant music. A modernized industry model necessitates a reorganization of the copyright protections ultimately designed to motivate exceptional musicians. The following comment proposes a shift in one of music’s traditional revenue streams, and examines the controversial public performance exemption provided to broadcast radio. While debate has circulated around the public performance exemption for decades, the changing economic tide has generated new issues and concerns for both the radio and record industries. These issues have made their way to the Congressional floor in the form of the Performance Rights Act (“PRA”). This comment analyzes the arguments for and against enacting the PRA. It further exposes several weaknesses in the radio industry’s attack of the PRA, including an examination of radio’s promotional value, the absence of reciprocal revenue from international stations, and the disparity between digital and broadcast stations. Finally, it gives a practical proposal to amend the PRA and ensure its passage.
Brandon H. Nemec, No More Rockin' in the Free World: Removing the Radio Broadcast Exemption, 9 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 935 (2010)