I am a policy wonk. I am more comfortable writing about, say, broadband adoption than race.
But race and public policy often intersect so my beach staycation reading includes “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation.”
The increasingly nasty battle over artists getting paid today moves to the Senate, where the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “The Performance Rights Act and Parity among Music Delivery Platforms.” The witnesses will include Sheila E and James L. Winston, executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.
Though “fair pay for airplay” on its face is race neutral, the “Performance Rights Act” has become a civil rights issue for supporters of the legislation. Supporters like the NAACP and Dionne Warwick.
WHEREAS H.R. 848 ends a decades old, outdated exemption from the copyright laws that allows radio stations to exploit African-American and other musicians by not paying them for their music when it airs on radio. Every modern country requires radio stations to compensate musicians, and copyright law requires that artists be compensated in every other circumstance – when their music is played on satellite radio, downloaded from iTunes or even played at a local bar. H.R. 848 is about ending the exploitation of African-American musicians and paying them a fair wage for their work.
WHEREAS H.R. 848 is a labor issue: H.R. 848 is about paying artists for their work. A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay; that’s a plain and simple truth that is American as apple pie. And it’s a principle inviolable to the labor movement.
WHEREAS H.R. 848 is a civil rights issue: Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to ensure that sanitation workers got paid a fair wage. Compensating people fairly for their work is a basic civil right. We did not wage a civil rights movement to enable a few rich African American millionaires exploit and hoodwink African-American musicians…
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP endorses and supports H.R. 848, The Civil Rights for Musicians Act of 2009 and call on the NAACP units and members throughout the country to contact its Congressional members and Senators and the President of the United States to pass this measure into law so America’s performers can receive the respect they so long deserve.
The Senate hearing will be webcast here, beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.