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Smokey Robinson pushes Congress for copyright reform

By
Danielle Haynes
Motown legend Smokey Robinson testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Music industry professionals testified during the hearing which was called to examine protecting and promoting music creation for the 21st century. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI
Motown legend Smokey Robinson testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Music industry professionals testified during the hearing which was called to examine protecting and promoting music creation for the 21st century. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

May 15 (UPI) -- Singers Dionne Warwick and Smokey Robinson were among a number of entertainers who pressed Congress on Tuesday to pass stronger copyright laws, saying making a living off sales of albums and CDs is a thing of the past as people increasingly turn to streaming.

Joining the two singers at the Senate judiciary committee hearing were songwriter Josh Kear, singer Darlene Love and Mary Wilson of the Supremes. They put their support behind Sen. Orrin Hatch's Music Modernization Act.

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The act would establish a new music licensing organization responsible for making sure the copyright holders of musical compositions are paid what they're due.

Robinson said songwriters should be able to collect royalties on music published before 1972 -- current copyright law protects music produced after Feb. 15, 1972. He said many writers of older songs aren't paid for music played on satellite radio or streaming services.

"They should be able to rely on income from the recordings used by digital radio companies to attract listeners and earn profits," he said. "For so many, especially at this point in their careers, this is how they make ends meet. It's how they pay their mortgage and their medical bills. It's how they feed their families."

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The package of legislation introduced by Hatch, R-Utah, includes an initiative from Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., to correct that problem.

The legislation "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," he said.

"I will add that, in my opinion, music made after 1972, with the exception of Meat Loaf's work, isn't as good as the classics anyway."

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