The music business is changing in many fundamental ways and that has given the RIAA and member labels an opening to ask a panel of copyright judges if they can lower statutory rates to songwriters. The RIAA's argument stems from their belief that even while record sales have plummeted because of illegal downloading; publishing revenue has soared from ringtones and other new digital revenue streams.
"While record companies and music publishers were able to agree on royalty rates during that 25-year period, the assumptions on which those decisions were based have changed beyond recognition," the RIAA said.
"Mechanical royalties currently are out of whack with historical and international rates," RIAA executive VP and general counsel Steven Marks said. "We hope the judges will restore the proper balance by reducing the rate and moving to a more flexible percentage rate structure so that record companies can continue to create the sound recordings that drive revenues for music publishers."
We doubt that musicians, who find songwriting along with touring among the few remaining revenue sources, will agree.
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