....LMB: "RIAA vs Internet Radio (cont.)"....

June 22, 2002

The short version:

The US Copyright Office is currently trying to figure out how much in royalty payments internet radio/webcasting organizations should have to pay to artists and record labels for the songs they play. All of this sounds mundane, until you discover that the decision of this office has the potential to decimate nearly all internet radio.

Anyhow, a Copyright Office committee, known as the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) put together a list of suggested royalty rates back in February. In May, the Copyright Office rejected these suggestions, and put together their own plan that they just released this past week.

I won't bore you with the details (you can do that yourself, here), but while the rates are lower than those suggested by CARP, they are still pretty high. High enough that come Sept. 1, when royalties will be due retroactively to 1998, most internet broadcasters will probably file for bankruptcy. All that will be left standing will be major radio stations that also happen to webcast, or private "stations" set up by the record labels themselves, who can play songs from their own catalog without paying fees.

Which, in my analysis, is the whole point. This isn't about "fair market value" of the songs played as the record industry claims. It's not about money, it's about control. Eliminating all but the huge business players maintains a similar status quo to the broadcast radio world. No one rocks the boat, and the professionals quietly rake in their money.

As y'all may know, I'm an internet broadcaster myself. I have a show on Kill Radio, a mix of music and political commentary. So obviously I have a vested interest in this. My thoughts on the subject are 1) copyright is nonsense, 2) we're a non-profit station, why should the record industry make money off of us? 3) we're actually giving free exposure to these bands, providing a service, 4) most for-profit webcasters seem willing to pay royalties, just at rates small enough that their stations can survive.

But the story is still being written. At least two Congressmen have declared that these new rates are unfair (with a battle cry of "Viva el small businessman!"), and may attempt to override the Copyright Office decision via legislation.

For more information than you ever thought possible on this topic, check out the Radio And Internet Newsletter. It's very biased in favor of webcasters, but it's still very informative and pragmatic.

In a way, I almost hope that the record industry succeeds on all its current legal fronts. If they managed to wipe out webcasters, file-trading on the internet, kids copying CDs on their computers, etc., they might have to acknowledge that their low sales aren't due to all these evil outside forces, but because the music they're selling is crap.

Posted by Jake at 03:50 PM

Hello there. I am a freshman at Mclennan Community College. I was wondering if someone coud answer a few questions for me about the interenet radio royalty issue. I am researching it for a report due in my Microcomputers class. If someone could email me I would appreciate it very very much. Thank you.
Sarah N. Payne

Posted by: Sarah Payne at November 12, 2003 08:39 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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