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Doug C.
Republican GA 9

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  • Songwriter Equity Act

    by Representative Doug Collins

    Posted on 2015-12-09

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    COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, it is good to be back on the floor of the House. I am thrilled tonight to be surrounded with my friends and colleagues, and to be part on championing a call that is close to my heart, and should be for every Member of Congress. Because we are dealing with songs and songwriters and the special place that they have in American life, and really in the world.

    The amazing thing is how the songs that come from the hearts of many from Nashville, where I have friends tonight, Rob and Lance and Lee Thomas, and the rest, they are watching others across the country are songwriters, who are very interested in what goes on here. Because, amazingly enough, here in Washington, DC, as the tentacles spread out, you come to find out that, even in songwriting, Washington has its grip on it.

    {time} 1930 I just want to point out for those who may be watching--now, this is a quote. This doesn't come from me. It comes from Kevin Kadish. You may know Kevin. If you like to listen to a little bit of music, he happened to have a little, small hit with Meghan Trainor, ``All About That Base,'' and Miley Cyrus' ``Two More Lonely People.'' He made a comment. He said that no one is trying to put Pandora or Spotify out of business. We just want a fair market value for our blood, sweat, and tears.

    This is something that, for me, is very special because, over the next 30 minutes, you are going to hear about a million and a half songwriters, publishers, and composers across the Nation and how the current music licensing regime is causing them to be paid well below market value.

    Now, as a conservative, one thing I believe is that the government has a role--it has a limited constitutional role--especially when it comes to the ultimate of the small businesses: the entrepreneurs. Those are some of our songwriters and composers. The Federal Government should not have its thumb on the scale, and that is what we are seeing tonight. So you are going to hear about that as we go along. The government's heavy hand in this industry needs to go.

    We have got another issue here of the Songwriter Equity Act. We have got some folks I want to have talk tonight; but I want to introduce this, and they are all cosponsors of this act. It is H.R. 1283.

    When I start talking about this tonight, for those watching, there are three ways songwriters get paid. I am going to make it very simple. There are three ways they get paid: Two of which the government has its thumb on and--guess what?--one of which they don't. Does anybody want to take a guess? Raise your hand. Not my colleagues, you know this. Will anyone raise his hand really quickly? Which way is the fairest way? It is when they are able to negotiate on their own. That is the sync license.

    So, with the Songwriter Equity Act, it removes the antiquated evidentiary standard; it adopts a fair rate standard for reproduction, or mechanical licenses. Why? To ensure that songwriters, composers, and publishers are appropriately compensated for the use of their intellectual property.

    Before I get ready to turn it over to some of my friends who are here with me tonight and who are part of cosponsoring this, the issue before us is: We all can point back to that time. It is a song on the radio. This is the time of year, this holiday season. Or it may be a long drive in the summer. Or it may be sitting outside, but there is that song and that special someone. That song comes on, and you hear it, and the performer is performing it wonderfully. It may have been the performer, or it may have been something else. But a lot of times, there is someone who is sitting in a room or is sitting somewhere, and what comes out of their hand and onto a piece of paper has come out of their heart and their mind and their mouth. It has affected our hearts and our minds, and it has affected us even to this day.

    You can think about those songs. That is what makes songwriters special. That is what makes this cause something that we need to fight for.

    You have heard them on the radio. Our radio stations have played these songs. For a State trooper's kid, who grew up in northeast Georgia, to listen to the radio, that was my escape. Between that and books, I traveled the world and always longed to see it, and those songwriters took me there. This is why we are fighting today. It is because we believe that what these artists have is intellectual property. What comes out of the their minds, what comes out and is expressed on paper and is then translated many times through artists' singing across the world, is worth protecting. It is intellectual property. It is as much intellectual property as is this property of my phone in my hand, and we have got to understand that.

    Tonight, I have some friends with me. We will have a lot of time to talk about this. I want to start off up north a little bit. My friend from North Dakota, Kevin Cramer, is here. We have talked about this issue, and I am glad he has joined me here tonight.

    One of the things that we talked about, Kevin, as you came on the floor, you said, You know, it is just about fairness. I think that is a great way to put it. It is just about fairness. So I am happy to yield to the gentleman to talk about this.

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