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Artists' Bill Proposed in New York

October 30, 2002|Chuck Philips | Times Staff Writer

New York lawmakers have proposed a bill that could open the door on free-agency contracts for recording artists.

The Artistic Freedom Act was introduced Monday by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, with the backing of powerful unions such as the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the AFL-CIO.

New York State Assembly members Roger L. Green, Joe Morelle and Catherine Nolan, all Democrats, also signed on to the bill, which would limit recording contracts to seven years.

The move comes two months after a similar bill died in the California Senate. Lawmakers in Sacramento have vowed to resurrect a proposal that would not only reform music contracts but also regulate accounting practices, health-care benefits and pensions in the music industry.

The New York bill was championed by entertainment attorney L. Londell McMillan and the Artist Empowerment Coalition, a New York-based nonprofit group that includes dozens of music stars such as Prince and Stevie Wonder.

The coalition staged a concert Monday evening in New York to raise awareness about artists' rights, followed by a news conference Tuesday joined by union leaders from AFTRA, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Musicians.

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