TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Congress: "Merry Chrismas! We're Turning Off Your Analog Outs"

Re: Congress: "Merry Chrismas! We're Turning Off Your Analog Outs"

R. T. Wurth (
Tue, 20 Dec 2005 02:01:17 GMT wrote in


> Just out of curiosity, do radio stations have to pay a royalty to
> record companies when they play music? What are the rules, if any,
> for someone recording a song off the radio or a tape off of TV?

(IANAL, this is just my opinion, do not rely on this as legal
advice. Furthermore, this reflects my understanding of the
situation in the USA only. If you need legal advice, hire a

Yes, and no. Radio stations pay a royalty to the composers and
(lyric) authors (or, more correctly, to the publishing company to
which they sold the rights) indirectly through license contracts with
ASCAP and BMI (and sometimes a 3rd agency, SECAC, which represents a
miniscule portion of the authors and composers). ASCAP and BMI
license their entire libraries (and not just to radio stations, but
also to stores that play music, bars, restaurants, and night clubs)
for a single negotiated fee, take samples of music usage, and
distribute their collections (less collection fees and profits) to the
rights holders in proportion to the works' standings in the sample

On the other hand, the actual performers (or the holders of their
royalty rights) receive nothing from the radio stations. They are
held to be fully compensated by the exposure they receive and the
increased record and live performance ticket sales resulting
therefrom. (Except, of course performer- author-composers, who still
receive their author/composer royalties, but nothing extra as

Record companies don't figure into the equation, unless you consider
the illegal practice of payola, wherein they allegedly pay stations or
DJs to play certain songs, but we all know that's illegal, so no one
would actually to that (wink, wink; nod, nod). In fact, most folks in
the radio biz would be "shocked! shocked!" (like the police chief in
_Casablanca_), to hear that anything like that goes on.

As to the 2nd question, IANAL, but my understanding is that under the
Sony Betamax decision, a person has at least the right to record off
the air for the purpose of time shifting, that is, a single viewing in
their own home for the enjoyment of themself and their family. I
think (with less certainty) one may also have the right to keep the
recording around for more than one viewing. I certainly believe one
does not have the right to sell (for cash or barter) the recording or
charge admission to a viewing. I suspect trading or lending like for
like with other enthusiasts to fill gaps in one's viewing is a gray

-- Rich Wurth / / Rumson, NJ USA

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Regards the first part of your
statement on paying royalties what about classical music stations,
where a great deal of the music itself is in the public domain, owing
to the age of the compositions, etc? PAT]

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