Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s field hearing on Music Policy Issues: A Perspective from Those Who Make It.
Chairman Goodlatte: I am pleased to call this field hearing to order.
Our nation’s copyright laws, and the exclusive rights they grant to artists and creators, have made the United States the world leader in creativity. We must ensure that status continues in the digital age.
It requires courage for individuals to take a risk and transform the ideas in their minds into works of art, musical works, literature, software, and other creative forms. Creators willing to do so expose themselves to criticism and rejection if others do not appreciate their efforts, and they face theft if their work is appreciated. We must continue to provide our nation’s creators with strong incentives to take these risks so that we can continue to reap the rich benefits our nation’s creators provide to our citizens and nation.
Today, we focus on music creators on a major weekend for the music world. The statutory framework that governs the music industry has long been the subject of a number of legitimate complaints that it fails to properly recognize and reward American music creators.
Today’s witnesses will highlight how the music business has changed over the past decade resulting in a number of policy issues of concern. Most, if not all, of these policy issues are the subject of pending legislation. These issues include the distinction in copyright law between sound recordings fixed prior to February 15, 1972 and those fixed afterwards; the convoluted mechanical licensing system that seems to create more litigation and paperwork than actual royalties for songwriters; the ability for producers, sound engineers and mixers to be paid for their efforts when their works are webcast; and the appropriate rate setting mechanisms for the uses of music that are subject to compulsory licenses.
A number of interested parties have worked with the Judiciary Committee and its Members to draft legislation to address these issues and more. Most notably in their order of introduction this year – the AMP Act; the Fair Play Fair Pay Act; the CLASSICS Act; and the Music Modernization Act. I’m sure that the witnesses will have thoughts on all of these bills which have been the subject of a number of recent letters of support across the music industry.
Before I turn to our witness panel today, I would like to highlight the music industry’s unique status as one of the last industries subject to federal rate setting mechanisms. It is an obvious and long term question whether such over-regulation is truly necessary. Hopefully, the legislation pending before Congress currently will modernize the system while paving the way for a day when American music creators can do what virtually every other American creator is able to do – set their price for the usage of their creations.