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June 14, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation to protect legacy of performers
New law requires ‘knock off’ groups to use disclaimer in advertising

SPRINGFIELD Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to prevent copycat groups from performing as though they are the original artists. House Bill 4172 aims to keep “knock-offs” from making a profit off of the fame and hard work of other performers through misrepresentation of their identity. It was sponsored by Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D – Broadview) and Sen. Mattie Hunter (D – Chicago).
Mary Wilson, an original member of the legendary Motown group the Supremes, visited the Capitol to lobby on behalf of this bill in January. She compared the unauthorized use of their trademarks by a number of individuals to theft of her identity, while also highlighting the fraud to consumers who attend these performances under the impression that they are seeing the real thing.
"If you're sold a ticket to see the Supremes, you should see the Supremes. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. But hopefully this new law will stop that from happening," said Gov. Blagojevich.
The new law will require all live musical performers that use the name, songs and personas of another group to identify in their advertising and promotions that their act is a salute or a tribute. Acts that include at least one member of the original group who is legally entitled to the name are exempt from these provisions. Performers using a name or likeness in violation of this Act could face an injunction, suspension of any license to perform and civil penalties up to $50,000. They could also be required to pay restitution to the original artists.
"This bill preserves the integrity of an artist and prevents imposters from using their name for profit.  The enforcement provision gives artists the tools they need to crack down on illegitimate acts. I believe that this strong bill will discourage groups from trying to mislead audiences," said Rep. Yarbrough. 
“This legislation is an initiative that has been pushed throughout the country. You have performing groups that travel from place to place performing under the name and likeness of an established music group,” said Sen. Hunter. “These performing groups are essentially committing identity theft by profiting from the names of famous groups while committing consumer fraud at the expense of concert goers.” 
HB 4172 is part of the “Truth in Music” initiative backed by the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (VGHF) as an effort to get similar laws passed in every state. With a museum in Pennsylvania, the VGHF is dedicated to honoring and protecting the legacy of vocal groups. Their inductees include the Supremes, along with the Beach Boys, the Temptations, and the Bee Gees.
“The signing of the 'Truth in Music' bill in the State of Illinois is a wonderful victory for the artists who make the whole world sing,” said Mary Wilson. “From now on when the public goes to a rock ‘n’ roll show in the area, they can be sure the artist is the original, and not some rip off band.”
“On behalf of all the Inductees of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, vocal groups of the past, and vocal groups yet to come, we would like to express our deep gratitude and appreciation to the Governor and all those involved with passing this important Truth In Music bill in Illinois,” said Bob Crosby, President and CEO of the VGHF Foundation. “This revolutionary legislation will provide the artists long overdue respect, protect artists’ legacies, and give hope to the vocal group artists that have suffered identity theft.  Furthermore, thousands of fans will no longer fall victim to consumer fraud.”
The bill will go in to effect on January 1, 2007.


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