Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017

This bill amends federal copyright law to extend a sound recording copyright owner’s rights to include the exclusive right to perform or authorize the performance of the recording publicly by means of any audio transmission, thereby requiring terrestrial AM/FM broadcast radio stations that play copyrighted sound recordings to pay royalties for the nondigital audio transmissions of the recordings.

Currently, sound recording copyright owners have a performance right that applies only to digital transmissions by cable, satellite, and Internet radio stations. The bill caps the annual royalty rate at: (1) $500 for small commercial broadcast stations with less than $1 million in revenues for the calendar year, and (2) $100 for public broadcasting stations. Exemptions are provided for religious service broadcasts or incidental uses of music from royalty payment requirements.

Proceeds for direct licenses of transmissions otherwise licensable under the statutory license must be distributed in the same manner as statutory license proceeds. The bill requires payment of 45% to featured artists, 2.5% to nonfeatured musicians, and 2.5% to nonfeatured vocalists. Such payments shall be the sole payments to which featured and nonfeatured artists are entitled under a direct license.

Performance royalties for sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, must be paid in the same manner as royalties for sound recordings fixed after such date. A collective designated by the CRJs must implement a policy to accept instructions (referred to as a “letter of direction”) from a sound recording copyright owner, or from a recording artist, to distribute a portion of performance royalty payments to a producer, mixer, or sound engineer who was part of the creative process behind the sound recording.

The collective must adopt special procedures for a producer, mixer, or sound engineer to receive a portion of royalties for recordings fixed before November 1, 1995, by certifying that a reasonable effort has been made to obtain a letter of direction from an artist who owns the right to receipts payable with respect to the sound recording.