Sometimes government has to get involved in contract matters, but whenever possible, it’s best for the bureaucrats to stay out of the way and allow such determinations to be made among private parties. 

Right now, Congress is considering a bill that would govern how music delivery services, such as different types of radio providers, must compensate musicians and record labels. 

The “Fair Play, Fair Pay” Act would empower a three judge panel set up by the Copyright Office to set minimum fees and to dictate contract terms for music play.  However, as the Discovery Institute’s Hance Haney writes, there is a far better, fairer, way to tackle this issue: “The most efficient way to get an accurate indicator of what a willing buyer and a willing seller would’ve negotiated in the marketplace is to call for private negotiations.”

Especially, since we know that the world of communication and entertainment delivery are constantly changing, it is far better for government to stay out of the way and allow private parties to create new relationships that meet their needs and the needs of the changing marketplace.  This would ensure that artists are fairly compensated, but that payments can be supported by the platforms.  That’s not only in the interests of those in the industry, but all of us who benefit from a dynamic, innovative entertainment system. 

There are legitimate arguments to be made for different parties being paid in different ways.  But there’s no justification for government being made the arbiter of who gets paid what. 

The so-called “Fair Play, Fair Pay” Act ends up with government cronies deciding who the winners and who the losers will be in this ongoing debate.  Rather than the market sorting itself out and deciding what each participant will accept – the free market system – you have Uncle Sam picking his favorites and giving them the largest slice of pie. Yet another industry falls victim to government regulations and the voice of the most powerful becomes the only voice in the room.