Government should extricate itself from the music business

Earlier this month, The Daily Caller published an opinion piece by Bill Wilson. In the piece, Wilson suggests that Americans for Tax Reform supports the willing buyer/willing seller model. In fact, Americans for Tax Reform does not support either 801(b) or willing buyer/willing seller. We support purely free market negotiations between owners and artists with vendors.

Americans for Tax Reform’s president, Grover Norquist, has expressly said in a letter: “Both the existing and proposed models pick winners and losers, rather than allowing free market negotiations. The entire existing price-controlled arrangement is unfortunate and unnecessary. Instead, all parties, e.g, writers, artists, recording companies, broadcasting companies and others, should be allowed to negotiate mutually agreeable terms. There is no way, ultimately, for a legislator to decide what the fair market value of a product or service is. That is what the market is for.”

A letter from Brandon Arnold of the National Taxpayers Union expresses a similar sentiment: “While [the IRFA] would increase parity between Internet and satellite radio stations, it would also reinforce the federal government’s unwarranted role in royalty rate-setting. Further, it would result in Congress mandating advantages to some businesses over others.”

It is clear that much needs to be worked through for artists to be fairly compensated for their work and for radio services to maintain viable businesses. However, it is not the government’s job to favor either of these parties, or force someone to sell a product. Government should step back and allow the free market to develop a solution.

Katie McAuliffe is executive director of Digital Liberty, an Americans for Tax Reform affiliate.