Mr. Barry Goes To Washington

By | April 4, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Napster interim CEO Hank Barry calls upon Congress to enact compulsory license laws that include direct payment to artists.

Testifying before U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Napster’s chief executive officer said that an act of Congress is required to remedy the issues facing Internet music. Barry called on Congress to enact a compulsory license analogous to laws already in place for radio, for the delivery of music over the Internet. He urged that any such license should include language that enables direct payment to artists similar to the “writer’s share” of public performance payments that are collected by ASCAP and BMI. Barry stated, “Licensed music should now be available over the Internet as it is over the radio. I strongly believe such a change is necessary, an important step for the Internet and that it will be good for artists, listeners and businesses.”

Barry continued, “Congress has repeatedly used such licenses to advance public policy goals in the context of new and frequently inefficient marketplaces. Compulsory licenses with clear payment structures have encouraged beneficial new technologies, and responded effectively to particular market failures.

“Music on the radio works because of what is functionally a compulsory license. Cable television. Satellite television. Web casting. You in the Congress have effectively encouraged new technologies through compulsory licensing in a way that fostered competition and benefited consumers and creators alike,” he added. Later in his testimony, Barry pointed out that Copyright issues frequently require the help of the Congress to maintain a balance between the public’s interest in promoting creative expression and the public’s interest in having access to those works.

In his final remarks, Barry pleaded with the Committee to take steps that would protect the burgeoning online music industry. “The question before this Committee is a matter of policy: how to make this new world of Internet music work. The next step should not be shutting it down. The Congress has effectively promoted new technologies in the past, while ensuring that creators benefit; it is essential that you do so again today.”

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