The Capitol got a little soulful this week thanks to a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. George Holding.
Under the legislation older performing artists would get compensation from digital radio services that use their work. The bill is called RESPECT –“Respecting Senior Performers as Essential Cultural Treasures.” (Cue Aretha.)
“The Respect Act confronts an idiosyncrasy in the law that has resulted in some of our country’s greatest talents, who recorded music and other work, being denied just compensation by digital music services for work they recorded before 1972,” Holding said in a statement on Thursday.
The Raleigh Republican, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, said that digital services argue they don’t have to pay under their federal copyright license because recordings made before Feb. 15, 1972, are covered by state law.
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He invoked the names of two late, great North Carolina musicians – John Coltrane and Earl Scruggs,who he called “our Beethoven of Banjo” – in calling for the change.
Holding, a former U.S. attorney, said it never was the intent of Congress that artists who recorded before the mid-1970s wouldn’t be paid for their work and property. “It goes against the nature of copyright and property rights generally,” he said in the statement.
The RESPECT Act would require digital music services that use the federal compulsory licenses to pay royalties for the pre-1972 music they play.
His fellow Republican Rep. Howard Coble of Greensboro, who chairs the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, was one of eight co-sponsors of the bill.
Coble, well-known for his love of bluegrass, got a visit from a pantheon of goldie oldie rockers, including Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield and Martha Reeves, of Martha & the Vandellas. They were joined by Karla and Jarred Redding, the daughter and grandson of Otis Redding. No word on whether they jammed.