WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La.) today introduced bipartisan legislation called the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act, also known as the CLASSICS Act, with Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.). Joining Sens. Kennedy and Coons are original co-sponsors Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-T.N.). Their bill will help close a flawed loophole that leaves some of our most cherished artists out of the federal copyright system.
Currently, federal copyright law does not protect sound recordings made before Feb. 15, 1972. This has resulted in confusion, litigation and an unfair playing field for iconic artists in Louisiana and across the U.S. The CLASSICS Act would acknowledge these artists’ contributions by compensating them when digital radio services use their recordings. The act would bring federal law up to speed with the modern age of music platforms.
“Artists who made music prior to 1972 are getting a raw financial deal because of an antiquated loophole in our legal system. Our bill, the CLASSICS Act, will give the recognition and compensation these artists deserve. Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz. Artists who contributed to that uniquely New Orleans sound are pioneers who deserve the same copyright protections as everyone else,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I will add that, in my opinion, music made after 1972, with the exception of Meatloaf’s work, isn’t as good as the classics anyway.”
“The music performed and recorded by artists before February 15, 1972, is an important part of our shared cultural heritage. It’s the music many of us listened to growing up on records and cassettes, and it simply is not fair that when we listen to that music today on digital platforms, those legacy artists are not compensated even though their modern counterparts are,” said Senator Coons. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to introduce the CLASSICS Act and fix this long-standing disparity, and I thank the many different segments of the music industry that have worked hard to achieve this consensus solution.”
“I want to thank the sponsors of the CLASSICS Act for honoring the rich musical heritage of Louisiana by introducing legislation to ensure that our legacy artists are treated fairly by digital music services. The work of so many icons of American music who recorded before 1972 is part of the fabric of our cultural history and deserves equal treatment under the law,” said Trombone Shorty, New Orleans-based musician, singer-songwriter, producer. “It’s their recordings that inspired me and whole generations of artists to make music, and I am grateful to all of the sponsors of the CLASSICS Act for respecting their contributions.”
“As a proud California resident and an artist who recorded music before and after 1972, I’m deeply grateful to the Senate sponsors for this important bill that will finally allow artists like me to get paid by digital radio services for our pre-’72 recordings,” said Mary Wilson of The Supremes. “It’s unacceptable that songs by my group The Supremes like “Stop! In the Name Of Love” or “Baby Love” – both staples of SiriusXM’s “‘60s on 6” station – are treated with less value than our 1976 hit “I’m Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking” and so many others recorded after 1972. With this bill, we are finally giving legacy artists the respect they deserve.”
The CLASSICS Act is supported by the American Association of Independent Music, the Recording Industry Association of America, Pandora, musicFIRST, the Internet Association, the Recording Academy, SoundExchange, Screen Actors Guild?American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, American Federation of Musicians, the Content Creators Coalition, the Future of Music Coalition, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, the Living Legends Foundation.