Time to update payments for composers, publishers

Recent articles about the struggle between music performance rights organizations (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the Broadcast Music Inc.) and online streaming services (Pandora, et al.) contain a glaring omission: how the money is distributed to the composers and publishers whose songs are used.

The ASCAP’s operation is regulated by the longest-running consent decree in U.S. history, requiring it to perform objective air surveys to determine distribution rates to members. Under an archaic credit category system, “Featured Performances” (pop songs) are granted 100 percent of a payment credit while all other categories of music — film scores, background music and advertising jingles — fall far behind, regardless of how often they are broadcast.  

The 100 percent pop song rate began when the ASCAP was founded 100 years ago and has not changed since, not even after the invention of radio or the invention of television, or now, after the invention of the Internet.

The consent decree also grants ASCAP members additional votes in the Board of Directors election process based on the longevity and number of performances achieved by their songs, thereby awarding the publishers and composers of old-time standards sufficient voting power to re-elect themselves to office and continue their biased control of distribution rates. 

Payments from users to suppliers will be determined by the marketplace. But the musical apartheid of members’ songs must end. The Justice Department should enforce the terms of the consent decree or end it, and get out of the music business completely.

Bedford Hills, N.Y.

Opposing healthcare reform law is cruel

From Dorian Hamilton

To the opponents of the Affordable Healthcare Act / proponents of the federal shutdown:

How blessed you are to have constituents who are insured and receiving quality, comprehensive healthcare. I can think of no other reason why your constituents would support your position.

How blessed you are to continue receiving pay while failing to exercise your constitutional duty.

“Winning” somehow means that millions of people like me should be denied access to more affordable healthcare and denied payment for services that continue to be rendered in good faith to the government as a contractors. The uninsured, the government worker, the government contractor, the beneficiaries of Head Start and the Women, Infants and Children program, the applicants for college loans and subsidized home mortgages, the men and women tasked with protecting the homeland without pay and the military personnel who depend on the affordable prices of the base commissary to feed their families belong to an America that you clearly do not value.

Do not sing “God Bless America.” Do not place your hand over your heart and pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. You are a disgrace to the oath you took upon entering office.

Stafford, Va.

Iran deserves respect

From Christopher Calder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps pushing the United States to attack Iran even though Iran’s new leadership has publicly promised that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons. Some pro-Israel news sources have lied to America, claiming that Iran’s 20 percent enrichment of uranium was “bomb grade.” Uranium must be enriched to 90 percent to make a bomb, and the 20 percent enriched uranium Iran has manufactured is being turned into fuel rods for nuclear power plants.

Netanyahu claims Iran cannot be trusted, but back in the 1980s, Iraq used both sarin and mustard gas against Iran. CIA documents suggest that Iraq carried out these attacks with the full knowledge and consent of then United States President Ronald Reagan. Iran showed restraint, did not counterattack with chemical weapons and ceded large border territories to end the war with Iraq.

Who can be trusted? The USA illegally spies on its close allies, did nothing to stop Iraq’s chemical weapons attack against Iran and is the only nation on earth that has used both chemical and nuclear weapons in war. I would suggest that Iran deserves some respect during negotiations, not an illegal, unprovoked attack by the U.S. military.

Eugene, Ore.

Fix it with a Fair Tax Act 

From Beverly Martin

When family, friends and neighbors are signing up for food stamps and unemployment or your kids or grandchildren can’t find a meaningful job after college, it’s hard to swallow government claims about the economy improving. There’s a reason for why it’s hard to believe things are getting better: For the middle class and poor, the economy is not improving. After adjusting for inflation, today’s median income for family households is the same as in 1980. Since the 1970s, the median income for men working full time has remained stagnant. Last year, 1.7 million Americans used government help to stay above the poverty level.

The Fair Tax Act (H.R. 25) would end the shell game of “Under which ‘fixed’ income tax plan do you get the best results?” End the income tax. Under the fair tax in the first year, 13.3 million more jobs would be created and wages would increase 10 percent, according to research by David G. Tuerck. 

For nine years, H.R. 25 has sat in Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) House Ways and Means Committee. It is our families — not the powerful members of Congress — that are suffering.

Fulton, Mo.