Home-taping. Now there's a word that members of the recording industry don't like. Piracy's another. And don't even mention record-renting.

"My 13-year-old, my son Bobby, went over to a friend's house. He found a copy of 'Mister Wonderful' and got excited. He made a tape of it to bring home and surprise me. He did surprise me. 'Well,' I told him, 'you just lowered your chances of going to college.' "

That's George David Weiss talking. Weiss wrote songs for the show "Mister Wonderful on Broadway" and singles such as "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." He's also president of the the American Guild of Authors and Composers, otherwise known as the songwriters' guild, and will gladly explain at length how songwriters earn no more than 2 1/8 cents per song per record sold.

Last night in the Washington Hilton's spaceship-like ballroom, the Recording Industry Association of America held its 13th Cultural Award Dinner, and much of the talk echoed Weiss' concerns. But the 1,400 representatives from every major recording company--CBS/Records Group, Motown, RCA, to name but three--had come mainly to honor Rep. Sidney R. Yates (D-Ill.).

Yates, who is noted for his unfailing support for the arts, accepted his award (a Steuben crystal obelisk) from RIAA President Stanley Gortikov, then modestly credited all members of Congress with a slight slip of the tongue. "It is they," Yates said, "who through the years have generally, er, generously supported the arts."

Also following the cocktail reception and dinner were performances by flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and country-pop singer Kenny Rogers.

Before the awards ceremony and entertainment, however, Gortikov made one request from his guests: "For tonight, please don't use your tape recorders."