Union demands information from record labels to confirm and secure payment to artists
LOS ANGELES (May 19, 2011) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70,000 professional recording artists, performers and broadcasters – today praised the recent $105 million copyright infringement settlement against one of the Internet’s most egregious illegal, peer-to-peer file-sharing websites, LimeWire, and its CEO Mark Gorton.
The Union further announced that it served an Information Request on each of the major record labels and their subsidiary labels involved in the LimeWire settlement, seeking to confirm and secure the fair and appropriate share of the settlement proceeds due to AFTRA recording and non-royalty artists in a timely and transparent manner in accordance with the terms of the Union’s collective bargaining agreement with the labels.
“As the exclusive collective bargaining representative and voice of recording artists, AFTRA applauds this landmark settlement which awards our members their fair share of the monies they are owed as a result of LimeWire’s infringement of our members’ copyrighted works,” said Randall Himes, AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director for Sound Recordings. “AFTRA is moving quickly and aggressively to ensure that the settlement monies are apportioned fairly and disbursed timely to ensure that all artists, including AFTRA members get their rightful share.”
According to industry statistics, the unlawful theft of music and other entertainment programming, such as television programs, costs AFTRA members and the American economy, on average, more than 140,000 jobs and $5.5 billion annually. As reported in the 2010 Winter edition of AFTRA Magazine, the Union’s internal member publication, for AFTRA recording artists, “90% of members’ earnings are tied to the sales of physical product and lawful downloads,” which are directly threatened by digital theft operations, like LimeWire. Digital theft also robs AFTRA artists of payments they are due when their recordings are licensed for use in films, television programs, video games, commercials and other types of media.
Currently, AFTRA artists are preparing to renegotiate the AFTRA Sound Recordings Code – the Union’s second largest national contract – which expires on Dec. 31, 2011. The AFTRA Sound Recordings Code covers recordings for digital download and on vinyl, CDs, cassettes, etc., and includes all music formats as well as audiobooks, cast albums and any other sound recording using vocal performance. The Code provides minimum terms and conditions including health and retirement benefits for all singers, announcers, actors, comedians, narrators and sound effects artists, among others. Negotiations with the major record labels are scheduled to begin in August, providing artists with a forum to collectively address issues that affect their musical careers.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society.