Hatch to introduce bill protecting songwriters' compensation

Singer-songwriter Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced Monday that he would introduce a bill to ensure songwriters are fairly compensated.

“The music business is one of the toughest industries out there and our songwriters and composers shouldn’t have to accept artificially low royalty rates for their works,” Hatch said Monday. “Allowing them to receive the fair market value for their songs is the right thing to do.”

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Hatch, who sings and plays the piano, organ and violin, has written dozens of songs, including more recently a hip-hop-style Hannukah song titled “Eight Days of Hanukkah.”

Hatch made the announcement about the legislation at a Nashville café with Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who are co-sponsoring the bill.

“Italy has its art, Egypt has its pyramids, Napa Valley has its wines and Nashville has its songwriters,” Alexander said. “Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City, and their paychecks ought to be based on the fair market value of their songs — so that when they write a hit heard around the world, you can see it in their billfolds.”

The Songwriter Equity Act would direct the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are sold, such as through music downloads and CD purchases. It also allow songwriters to more easily litigate when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert, and they aren’t properly compensated.

The Copyright Royalty Board has currently set the rate of compensation at 9.1 cents per song. Corker said that rate is too low and doesn’t account for technological advances.

“As technology advances, it’s important we not forget the sometimes unsung heroes of the music industry — the songwriters — and modernize the way they are compensated for their talents,” Corker said.

Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced a companion measure in the House, H.R. 4079.