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Highlights

The recording and broadcast radio industries touch the lives of most Americans through the development and distribution of music. Congress is considering legislation, the proposed Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848), that would expand copyright protection for the public performance of sound recordings. The proposed act would require AM/FM radio stations that broadcast music to pay a royalty, and this royalty would be distributed to the copyright holder, performers, and musicians. This report addresses (1) the benefits received by the recording and broadcast radio industries from their current relationship, (2) the possible effects of the proposed act on the broadcast radio industry, and (3) the possible effects of the proposed act on the recording industry. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed data on music sales, broadcast radio airplay, and broadcast radio stations' revenues; calculated potential royalty payments; and interviewed stakeholders from both industries as well as experts and government officials. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress reviewed a draft of this report. FCC noted that it has an interest in legislation that might have an adverse impact on radio stations. The Copyright Office addressed certain methodological approaches and findings in our draft report.

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