F.A.M.E.—Friends Against Musical Exploitation

Stop in the Name of Love: Supreme's PA copyright fight

By Joseph N. DiStefano
October 7, 2010

I asked State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Germantown, why she's the one pushing the General Assembly for a tighter copyright-violations law (HB 727) that she says would fill a gap in Pennsylvania's current trademark legislation by separating the "possession" of phony copies from the "intent to sell."

"It was brought to my attention by Mary Wilson. Of the Supremes," Youngblood told me.

Youngblood is a leader in the National Foundation of Women Legislators. Wilson lobbied the lady solons on behalf of the recorded-music industry, which has been losing zillions to Internet pirates and Chinese copyists. Youngblood invited her to Philadelphia and Harrisburg last summer, where Wilson testified on behalf of her sister and brother artists.

"We're trying to stop counterfeiters," Youngblood told me. She recited examples (mostly not in Pennsylvania) of cheap extension cords sparking fires, phony Similac baby formula, fake aircraft parts, and other threats "to the health and safety and welfare of our consumers in Pennsylvania. A lot of consumers don't understand what's going on. Its' hurting a lot of people."

Youngblood's bill has passed the House and moves for final approval in the Senate next week.

UPDATE: Governor Rendell signed HB727 Anti Counterfeiting Trademark into law on October 19, 2010.

Senate Judiciary Committee Okays Performance Rights Act

Bill will compensate artists and musicians for radio play

Washington, D.C., October 15, 2009 – Today the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Performance Rights Act (S. 379). The bill will close a loophole in copyright law that allows music radio stations to earn billions of dollars each year in ad revenue without compensating the artists, musicians and rights holders who bring music to life and listeners’ ears to the radio dial. A similar bill, H.R. 848, was approved earlier by the House Judiciary Committee. The following statement may be attributed to Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition:

“Today we are one step closer to righting a wrong that has existed since the early days of radio; one step closer to winning the fight for fundamental justice that has been waged by countless artists and musicians over the last 80 years.”

“We are grateful for the leadership of Chairman Leahy, Senators Feinstein and Hatch and other members of the committee. We look forward to working with them and Chairman Conyers, Representatives Issa and Berman and other members who understand the importance of creating a fair performance right on radio for America’s artists and musicians.”

“We are making unprecedented progress. Two congressional committees have now approved a bill to create a fair performance right on radio. We ask broadcasters and the new leadership at the NAB to join with us. Together we can create a performance right on radio that is fair to artists, musicians and rights holders, fair to other radio platforms that pay a performance royalty, and fair to AM and FM music radio.”

“Radio and music have a bright future together if the artists, musicians and rights holders who bring music to life and listeners’ ears to the radio dial are compensated fairly for their work.”

John Henkel
Director of Artist Relations
musicFIRST Coalition



Townhall Members

Mary with Neil Diamond

Mary with Neil Diamond

Performance Rights Bill Update

May 13th, 2009

Last week the “Performance Rights Act” took its first step and passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of (21 yes - 9 no).

Thanks to those of you that took time to email your support thru the Music FIRST website and all of you who contacted your Members of Congress during the Call to Action Day on Monday May 4th. We can never underestimate the importance of each and every contact we make to our Senators and Representatives in support of the Performance Rights Act.

The Performance Rights Act though is not yet a law. This is the just first step. Next, we go to the Senate.

We applaud Chairman John Conyers for his courage in standing down the broadcast owners who have been showing their opposition in Detroit. This opposition comes from small and minority owned radio stations stating the Act would be burdensome on them financially however they are only being asked to do what radio on cable, satellite and Internet radio already do – pay the singer for their talent.

It’s simply a matter of fair play for airplay.

The US House proposal is follows:

Radio Station Gross Profits Fee Per Year
$500,000. to 1.25 mil $5,000 per year (about $420 per month for all music play for whole year._)
100,000 to 500,000 $2,500 per year
$100,000 and below $500 per year. (less than $50 per month.)
(Depending on the gross profits – that’s often 1% or less A YEAR of Gross Profits)

Below is a recent article from the Detroit News regarding the Detroit area response to the bill passing thru the Judiciary Committee.

A big thanks to AFTRA Martha Reeves, in her capacity as a member of the Detroit City Council, who fought off an attempt by local minority owned radio stations and the Michigan Broadcast Association to pass a resolution against performance rights. Read excerpt from article below:

Radio-fees bill passes committee as stations stage protest

By Deb Price
The Detroit News
May 13, 2009

.......The Detroit City Council also weighed in, discussing a resolution Tuesday that supports the arguments made by black radio stations. The resolution, introduced by Kwame Kenyatta and JoAnn Watson, failed and was referred to an entertainment committee.

"Many of our artists haven't gotten their due, but it should be the record companies, not the stations, who should pay," said Watson, who has hosted the "Hello Detroit" radio show for more than 20 years. "(Small) black-owned stations will go out of business. They will close the stations down, I'm telling you."

But Councilwoman Martha Reeves said she wants to be fairly compensated. Reeves, of Motown fame, said she's a part of a group of about 300 artists who helped initiate Conyers' bill. She added during Tuesday's session that stations in other countries such as England pay the artists, and it should be the same in the United States.

"The artists whose records that are being played, they should be paid," Reeves said. "I'm representing my career and legacy. We've had music played for 40 years, and we're not being paid for it. America should step up to the plate and be responsible. We deserve this money."

Ex-Supreme at center of knockoff-band battle

Ex-Supreme backs 'Truth in Music' bill: Mary Wilson urges legislation to keep 'fake groups' from trying to pass as original legends


Mary Truth In Music

Former Supreme Mary Wilson, center, voices support for the "Truth in Music" bill Wednesday at the Capitol, along with state Reps. Borris Miles, left, Norma Chavez, Dawnna Dukes and Ruth McClendon. Photo: AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, RODOLFO GONZALEZ / HC

By Gary Scharrer
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
January 18, 2007

AUSTIN — When the "Supremes" take the stage and perform a bunch of Motown hits from the 1960s, Mary Wilson feels a sense of identity theft.

There are no more Supremes.

But there are plenty of groups that pass themselves off as The Drifters or The Coasters or The Platters and other musical acts from the 1950s and 1960s.

Wilson, an original member of the legendary Supremes, visited the Texas Capitol on Wednesday to push legislation that would prohibit a group from taking a name from one of the classic groups and playing their music unless at least one member of the original group is part of the performance.

She will return later this session to testify for a bill that could cost violators up to $15,000 each time they pass themselves off as one of the legendary music groups.

"The 'Truth in Music' bill is very important for the artists who recorded music that the majority of Americans from the 1950s and 1960s grew up on," Wilson said. "It's very important to the consumer because the consumer wants to come and enjoy music that he grew up with, that he got married to, that they had children to."

People buying tickets for most concerts with a big-time name from the past are seeing "fake groups," Wilson said.

"We want to make sure that the consumer is aware of who they are seeing. If the consumer doesn't mind that it's a tribute band, that's fine," she said.

Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, is the author of the proposal, House Bill 54.

Many original bands can't get hired in such places as Las Vegas, she said, because clubs prefer to book less-expensive knockoff bands.

The original bands "are being taken advantage of," Chavez said.

"It's a form of identify theft," said Wilson, who now lives in Las Vegas with her eight grandchildren.

Wilson, 62, was part of a group that had 12 No. 1 hits in the mid- and late-1960s, including Baby Love and Someday We'll Be Together.

She still performs as "Mary Wilson of the Supremes," as she did for the governor's ball Tuesday night to celebrate the inauguration of Gov. Rick Perry. Wilson estimates that she has spent $2 million in court costs to stop impostor groups from cashing in on her fame.

"We finally realized that until we get the laws in place, we can't (win)," she said.

So far, seven states have passed versions of the "Truth in Music" bill. It will take between 10 and 15 states to do so before national legislation can be pursued, Wilson said. The only opposition comes from agents and managers for the imitation groups.

Many of the groups being copied are in their twilight years.

"They can't work the bigger dates because the phony groups are working the bigger dates and making big money," Wilson said.

Imposter Supremes Group


Pictured above is a concert ad for one of the fake groups that falsely performs around the world as
"The Supremes".

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