Representatives Holding and Conyers introduced the bipartisan RESPECT Act to Congress last month, which would require internet radio services to pay the same royalties for pre-1972 recordings as they do for those recorded after the passage of the Federal Copyright Act. Over 70 recording artists launched a campaign named Project 72 to support the act.
Satellite stations and digital music services have been obligated by federal law to pay royalties since 1995. The services either make deals directly with the rights holders or pay for an automatic government license through entities such as SoundExchange, which distributes the money to recording artists and labels. Currently however, internet radio services do not pay royalties for music recorded before February 15, 1972 because they fall outside protections of the Copyright Act of 1972, the first federal law specifically addressing sound recordings. Recordings made before this date are only protected under varying discrepant state laws.
The initiative claims that this practice deprives artists and labels of approximately $60 million per year.