Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Manilow the lobbyist

Source: http://scootertalk.blogspot.com/2006/08/audio-home-recording-act-of-1991.html


ON H.R. 3204

Before the Subcommittee on
Intellectual Property and Judicial Administration
House Committee on the Judiciary

February 19, 1992

Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, my name is Barry Manilow. I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here today to testify in support of H.R. 3204, the Audio Home Recording Act of 1991. I come before the subcommittee today as a BMI songwriter, but I am also a musician, recording artist, music publisher, and consumer. I am also here today to represent thousands of others in the music industry.

In the time I've been allotted, I would like to stress three reasons why this legislation is of paramount importance to the music community and to consumers. First, this bill provides compensation to the creators, producers and performers of music for the home copying of our works.

Second, it will provide consumers with access to the most innovative and exciting new digital audio technologies that the market has to offer; in addition, the bill protects consumers from copyright infringement lawsuits for home copying of music for their personal use.

Finally, it will continue the great tradition of America's copyright law in fostering the creative spirit by preserving incentives for songwriters, musicians, performers and record companies to produce music. By ensuring a fair return on our investment of time and talent, Congress will guarantee that America's music community will continue to be the world leader in the production of recorded music.

Let me return to my first point as to why compensation to creators and producers of music is so important, by giving you a little insight into this crazy business of music. Like any other profession, it takes a great deal of work to achieve any degree of success. Not to mention a whole lot of luck. I've been very fortunate in my career. I'm proud of my achievements and my music. But I'm not here on behalf of myself. I've made it. My career started over twenty years ago, at a time when technology only presented new horizons, not fears. I'd like to speak to you on behalf of the thousands and thousands of American songwriters, musicians and performers who are struggling right now and who may or may not make it; and even more importantly, for the next generation of talent who will start with the same basic gifts I did and who must have the same opportunities.

As you probably know, success in the music business is a rarity. For every songwriter or performer that you can identify - there are hundreds of names that you'll never hear; hundreds of people who will never achieve any degree of financial success as a songwriter or performer. In addition, there are many other people who contribute to an artist's efforts who will never gain the attention of the public - other songwriters, publishers, recording engineers, mastering engineers, producers, background vocalists and musicians, A & R executives, promoters, marketers, distributors, and, of course, the record retainer - these are just some of the people who help bring music to the public. It is for these faceless and nameless individuals that I appear before you today to support this important legislation.

As songwriters, performers, and musicians we earn our money pennies at a time. We want our fans to enjoy our music, yes, but we also want to be paid for our work. When you're struggling to make ends meet, every little bit helps. For every record we well, we earn some money - a few cents. These pennies add up to be our salary. Only a few of the biggest superstars get paid up front. Most of us only get paid when the record sells. If we are lucky enough to get a hit, it's great news - that people like our songs.

The bad news is that it's the "hits" that get taped. Don't get me wrong. I'd rather have a hit, but when someone makes a copy of our work instead of buying it, this takes money out of our pockets and bread off our tables. Home copying threatens our very livelihood.

Never before has this threat been greater than today, as we enter an age of digital technology. The irony is that, as a producer and an artist, no one appreciates the advance of new technologies more than I. It has been really exciting to work with digital recording in the studio.

However, the advent of new digital audio recording devices for consumer use, such as DAT, Digital Compact Cassette (DCC), recordable CD, and Mini-Disc (MD), has a different meaning for me. DAT, for instance, permits consumers to make perfect copies for many generations. With digital technology, the 100th copy is as perfect as the first. If perfect copies can be made for only the cost of a blank tape, why purchase an original? Why pay for a prerecorded cassette or compact disc when you could get a digital copy from a friend that is as perfect as the original?

It is not a pleasant exercise, Mr. Chairman, to read about blank tape sales. That is why I am so pleased to be here today on behalf of this legislation. In my view, it brings only positive benefits to us all. This legislation will effectively remove the fears associated with digital recording technologies and permit songwriters, musicians and performers to join hands with consumers in embracing these new products. In addition to royalties, this bill provides for a limitation on the ability to make digital copies of digital copies through a requirement that all nonprofessional models of such equipment incorporate the "Serial Copy Management System" ("SCMS").

This leads to my second point, that consumers will gain access to exciting new technologies, free from the legal entanglement of the past. I want to address this point, first as an artist, then on the part of the consumer.

First, musicians want the best possible equipment available to deliver our music. The higher the quality of the equipment, the better our music sounds. No one in the music community has enjoyed being labeled as "anti-technology" just because we were concerned about the need to protect our rights - our copyrights. We've always wanted our fans to hear what we create in a setting as close to studio perfect as possible.

In the past, the consumer has been denied access to developing new technologies because of the legal climate surrounding introduction of DAT and other products. This bill changes the landscape, permitting manufacturers of new digital audio recorders to bring their products to the market without fear of lawsuits or the problems of the past. And, as it should be, the market will dictate the success or failure of these technologies. As an avid music fan, I am excited about all the possibilities that await us. The only dilemma will be for the consumer to decide among all the available technologies. But isn't that the way it should be?

Finally turning to my third point, this legislation will preserve the incentives for American songwriters, musicians, performers and record companies to continue to create music, thus maintaining our pre-eminence in the world market. When American music is played abroad we're not just exporting U.S. product, we're exporting American culture and ideals.

In these tough economic times, American music continues to dominate world trade. This means songwriters, musicians, and performers can continue to work at this business we all love. This legislation fuels investment in a diversity of music - music designed to meet all the tastes and interests of our pluralistic society, such as jazz, classical, gospel, folk, country, rap, and yes, even good old fashioned rock and roll.

By protecting our livelihoods, H.R. 3204 will provide the financial nourishment necessary to produce the quality and diversity of music we've all become accustomed to enjoying. Without this bill, our music industry could be on a downhill spiral that would result in a uniformity of music and career changes for songwriters, musicians, and performers.

Imagine this - without the protection this legislation offers, the music community would surely lose more revenue from home copying at an ever increasing rate. This translates into fewer dollars available to invest in new talent. We could lose a whole generation of young songwriters, musicians and performers solely from lack of adequate protection for our copyrights. Record companies would be less willing, and much less able, to take chances on new talent. Songwriters would be forced to write only those songs that they think would sell. Less popular genres of music, such as jazz, folk or classical, would fall by the wayside. And we'd all be bored and uninspired!

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, and members of this committee, you have taken the opportunity and provided the leadership necessary to prevent this dismal future by introducing H.R. 3204. Please now take the final step by enacting this measure as soon as possible so that American music, in all its richness and diversity, will be around for generations to come.

Thank you.


Note: On October 28, 1992, President Bush signed the Audio Home Recording Act into law. The Act, an historic compromise between the consumer electronics and music industries, became effective immediately.

Originally posted 8/06/2006 10:14:00 AM

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