Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act Introduced in Congress

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, DC, (July 20, 2017)— WineAmerica, the national organization of American wineries, and its partner the MIC Coalition (Music, Innovators, Consumers) enthusiastically support the bipartisan legislation introduced today by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) to establish a searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership and licensing information.

The bipartisan Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act is a major step forward in creating a music licensing system that is open and accessible to all stakeholders throughout the music economy – including more than 9,000 wineries located across all fifty states. For the overwhelming majority of wineries – many of which are  family owned businesses that bring much needed economic benefit to their agricultural and rural communities – simplifying the music licensing experience is essential.

The U.S. wine industry is unique in that many of the wineries and vineyards are  all-in-one agriculture, manufacturing, and retail establishments. “Wine is one of agriculture’s greatest value-added products and generates substantial benefits in the form of jobs, tax revenue, and support for local businesses through wine tourism,” says Tara Good, Vice President of WineAmerica. “Music and live music performances play a huge part in promoting wine tourism and creating a memorable and unique experience.”

Currently, the lack of an authoritative public database makes it prohibitive for the majority of small family-owned wineries to understand which music licenses best fit their needs and make the most sense for their business. In some cases, wineries are declining to host live musicians rather than risk potential liability due to lack of up-to-date and actionable licensing information. According to WineAmerica’s 2016 industry survey, 32% of wineries in the U.S. have either canceled or are considering canceling their live music programs.

“I am proud that WineAmerica has been able to work with the diverse stakeholders represented by the MIC Coalition to bring transparency to music licensing,” says Trent Preszler, Chairman of the Board of WineAmerica and CEO of Bedell Cellars in New York. “Transparency is the only way for wineries to make sound business decisions when it comes to music.”

The Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act is a major step forward in creating a music licensing system that is open and accessible to those who both own and license music. WineAmerica congratulates Congressman Sensenbrenner and Congresswoman DelBene for their leadership and supports the creation of a database that provides all stakeholders in the music marketplace with access to authoritative and fully searchable records of music ownership and licensing information, free-of-charge to users and updated in real time.

About WineAmerica

WineAmerica is the national voice of the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 41 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy. www.wineamerica.org

           ###

Tara Good, Vice President

202-223-5175

tgood@wineamerica.orgCircular New Logo (1)

WineAmerica and ASCAP Partner to Introduce New Music License for Wineries

WASHINGTON, DC, (June 15, 2017)— WineAmerica, the national organization of American wineries, and ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, are working together to simplify music licensing compliance for the American wine industry with the introduction of a unique music license created specifically for wineries.

The wine industry is unique: many wineries and vineyards are all-in-one agriculture, manufacturing, and retail establishments. ASCAP undertook a reevaluation of their winery license and crafted a new license that better serves the wine industry’s needs while ensuring compensation for its music creators. WineAmerica will work closely with ASCAP to administer the license to its member businesses and will provide an additional 10% discount to WineAmerica members.

ASCAP is a membership association that operates on a non-profit basis and represents more than 600,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. ASCAP’s mission is to license the public performances of their songs, collect those license fees, and ensure that songwriters are reasonably compensated for their work, a principle which WineAmerica fully supports. Under copyright law, when a venue such as a winery, restaurant or other establishment plays recorded, or offers live performances of, copyrighted music, it must purchase a license in order for the songwriter to be paid.

“WineAmerica has taken the leadership role on this issue, thanks to the diligent efforts of Vice President Tara Good,” said WineAmerica President Jim Trezise. “The new winery-specific license is simple and affordable, and WineAmerica members save even more.”

“A large number of wineries sincerely want to offer live music as part of their visitor experience, but the terms of the license did not meet their needs,” said Good. “We applaud ASCAP for recognizing this and for modifying their license so that it works for our establishments. We’re looking forward to collaborating with ASCAP to ensure that visitors can continue to enjoy music as much as they do the wines during their winery visit.”

“Music is more than just an art form for music creators – it’s their livelihood. It’s how they put food on the table and send their kids to school,” said Vincent Candilora, ASCAP EVP of Licensing. “WineAmerica recognizes the importance of paying music creators to use their music, and understands that it is both the lawful and right thing to do. We’re proud to work together with WineAmerica to develop a solution that works for wineries and for our music creators.”

The new winery license:

  • Lowers the square footage basis for determining license fees for smaller wineries. Wineries up to 3,750 square feet will pay the lowest fees.
  • Removes the requirement to purchase separate licenses for different venues on a winery’s property (e.g., tasting room versus restaurant);
  • Separates the live music and recorded music options, allowing the winery to choose just one or both;
  • Offers a seasonal discount range;
  • Provides a special reduced price for wineries under 5,000 gallons a year that host 6 or fewer performances per year.

In addition to the savings that wineries will gain from the new license, WineAmerica members are eligible to receive an additional 10% reduction on their licensing costs. WineAmerica is also available to help wineries assess whether licensing music is right for their business needs and to help shepherd them through the process. To learn more visit www.wineamerica.org/music or contact Tara Good at tgood@wineamerica.org. For additional questions ASCAP has a toll-free number for business owners to ask questions or concerns: 1-800-505-4052 (option 4).

About WineAmerica

WineAmerica is the national voice of the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 41 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

About ASCAP

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP’s mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world’s best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business – from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With over 600,000 members representing more than 10.5 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. Learn more and stay in touch at www.ascap.com, on Twitter and Instagram @ASCAP and on Facebook.

           ###

Media Contacts:

WineAmerica: Tara Good, 202-223-5175, tgood@wineamerica.org

ASCAP: Cathy Halgas Nevins, 212-621-8414, cnevins@ascap.com

Majority of US House of Representatives Support Federal Excise Tax Reform

218 House Members Co-sponsor Landmark Tax Reform Bill

by Michael Kaiser, Vice President

6.12.17

The House of Representative’s support for the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 747) has reached a majority of Members. Last week Representative David Rouzer, a Republican representing North Carolina’s 7th District, became the 217th Member of the House to sign on as a co-sponsor with Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-1) who introduced the bill in January.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act was originally introduced in 2015. This bi-partisan bill seeks to lower the tax burden for all wineries, breweries and distilleries in the United States. It is the first bill proposed that would reform the federal excise tax system for all three major alcohol commodities  and is a major part of WineAmerica’s legislative agenda. A companion bill (S. 236) has also been introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and currently has 45 co-sponsors.

H.R. 747 contains the following provisions for wine:

Expands Tax Credits for All Wineries

Under present law, wine is subject to an excise tax of between $1.07 and $3.40 per gallon, based on alcohol content and carbonation level. Qualifying small domestic wineries producing 250,000 wine gallons or less are eligible for a tax credit (Small Producer Tax Credit) generally equal to 90 cents per gallon on the first 100,000 gallons produced, with that benefit phasing out between 150,000 gallons and 250,000 gallons. H.R. 747 would remove the phase out and replace the credit with a new tiered credit system for wine produced in the U.S., or imported, as follows:

  • 1.00 credit for the first 30,000 wine gallons produced
  • $0.90 credit for the next 100,000 wine gallons produced (30,001 to 130,000)
  • $0.535 for the next 620,000 wine gallons produced (130,001 to 750,000)
  • All wine produced over 750,000 gallons will be taxed at the regular rate
  • Removes the existing prohibition against claiming the credit for naturally sparkling wines

Expands the Alcohol Threshold for Table Wine

Under current law, still wine is taxed at different rates based on alcohol content. Still wine containing not more than 14% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.07. Still wine above 14% and less than 21% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.57 per gallon. It is important to note that for labeling purposes alcohol content in wine may vary from the stated amount within certain tolerances, however no such tolerances exist for tax purposes. The bill would provide that wines up to 16% alcohol by volume qualify for the $1.07 tax rate, raising the threshold for table wine from 14% to 16%.

Increases Carbonation Tolerance Levels for Low Alcohol Wines

Current law provides a tolerance for still wine of 0.392 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine, which is generally taxed at $1.07 per wine gallon. Wines exceeding this limitation are taxed as “sparkling wine” at either $3.30 or $3.40 per wine gallon. The bill would increase that tolerance to 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine for wines produced primarily from grape or solely from honey and water (mead), which do not contain any other fruit and contains no more than 8.5% alcohol by volume.

WineAmerica has been working diligently with our alcohol association partners, as well as other related commodities, to pass the bill. The legislation is supported by the Brewers Association, Beer Institute, WineAmerica, Wine Institute, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, American Craft Spirits Association, Hop Growers of America, National Barley Growers Association, National Barley Improvement Committee, Winegrape Growers of America, Can Manufacturers Institute, and Glass Packaging Institute.

A complete list of sponsors for the House version of Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017 can be found here. Details about the Senate version can be found here.

For more information about the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, please contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org.

***

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 41 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

Trump Budget Proposes Massive Cuts to Essential Wine Industry Programs

by Michael Kaiser, Vice President

5.25.17

This week the Trump Administration released their Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Budget Request. This document outlines the Administration’s budget priorities for the next fiscal year. The document is non-binding and is no more than a suggestion to Congress for spending priorities. Congress controls the spending power of the federal government and is under no obligation to match the proposals put forward in the budget request. The government is funded through September 30, 2017 by the spending bill  passed late last month. Congress will begin work on the FY 2018 Appropriations Bill this summer. The Administration’s Budget proposes massive cuts to some of our key priorities:

TTB: The FY 2018 Budget Request proposes a $7 million decrease in funding for TTB. The current funding level is $106 million. That includes the $5 million for COLA and formula approvals that we worked to secure at the end of 2015 and was maintained this year. The additional funding allowed TTB to get COLA turnaround times for wine down to five days, down from upward of a month just a few years ago. A cut of this size would put that in jeopardy and would impede wineries from getting their product to market.

Specialty Crop Block Grants and Value Added Producer Grants: The Trump Budget Proposal eliminates all funding for the Speciality Crop Block Grant and Value Added Producer Grant Programs. These two programs are authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill, but the Administration can recommend eliminating the funding for the programs. The current funding for the Speciality Crop Block Grant program is currently $68 million and the Value Added Producer Grant Program is currently $14 million. Many wineries, vineyards, trade associations and universities rely on these programs for essential marketing and research needs.

Market Access Program: The Market Access Program (MAP) assists U.S. specialty crop producers to create, expand, and maintain access to foreign markets. This successful public/private cooperation is an effective tool for increasing access to consumers around the world and generating job creating export income for rural communities.  The Trump Budget Proposal eliminates funding for the Market Access Program. The current funding level is $200 million. Wine producers from California, Washington, Oregon and New York have used the MAP program extensively to market their wines outside of the US. Completely cutting the program would be devastating to the marketing efforts of those states, with a ripple effect throughout the rest of the industry. If these larger producing states lose their export markets, the wines will need to be sold elsewhere, and the most likely market is back in the United States.

Next Steps: WineAmerica will be working with our allies in various coalitions to insure that Congress does not strip the funding for these important programs. We will be taking meetings with relevant Members of Congress. We will ask for your help too. When Congress begins the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Process we will be asking you, our valued members, to reach out to your Congressional Delegations to tell them how important a fully funded TTB is and how essential these USDA programs are for the American wine industry.

***

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 41 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Receives Leadership Award from U.S. Wine Industry

Contact:  Michael Kaiser
Vice President
202-223-5172
mkaiser@wineamerica.org

May 1, 2017

Senator Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon was presented the 2017 Grape and Wine Public Policy Leadership Award by members of WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America last week in Washington DC during the jointly held National Policy Conference.

“Senator Wyden has been a true champion of Oregon wines for years,” said Janie Brooks Heuck, Secretary of the WineAmerica Board of Directors, who presented the award.  “As the owner of Brooks Wines in the Willamette Valley, I have benefited firsthand from his strong leadership, so it is a pleasure for me to help recognize him.”

Senator Wyden has been a tireless supporter of the American wine and grape industries over the years, working to modernize the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and most recently acting as the chief Senate sponsor of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. This initiative is the first comprehensive federal alcohol excise tax reform proposal that includes tax relief for wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Trent Preszler, PhD, WineAmerica Chair and CEO of Bedell Cellars in New York said, “There are wineries in all 50 States, and we need the type of broad-based leadership that Senator Wyden has provided to advance this all-American industry.  We are truly grateful for his support.”

“Senator Wyden defies the conventional view that Washington, DC is broken. He is an effective, results-oriented legislator who demonstrates a ready willingness to work on a bipartisan basis,” said John Aguirre, Executive Director of Winegrape Growers of America.

The Grape and Wine Public Policy Leadership Award will be awarded on an annual basis to legislators who have shown exemplary leadership on issues of importance to the American wine and grape industries.

***

WineAmerica is the national association of American wineries based in Washington, DC.  Each year it convenes a public policy meeting that combines education and meetings with legislators on key issues.  The meeting is held in conjunction with Winegrape Growers of America, an organization of grower associations from around the country.

For more information, visit www.wineamerica.org