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Internet Radio Fairness Act introduced in House of Representatives
July 26, 2002 12:54 PM   Subscribe

A ray of hope: Internet Radio Fairness Act . Disappointed in the Librarian of Congress' recent imposition of high fees on web radio broadcasters and the resultant shutdown of many web radio broadcasts (including KIRO and KMTT in Seattle), U.S. Reps. Jay Inslee [right] (D-WA), George Nethercutt [below] (R-WA), and Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced new legislation to change existing web radio laws.
posted by y2karl (22 comments total)

 
I know you guys like your free radio, but I support the RIAA, but have kept quiet about it for fear of hisses and boos from the mefi chorus.

My current job ( and another that I was offered ) is in music publishing. Radio stations and other web broadcasters are making money off of streaming music ( however small). The reason they get listeners is because of the music they play. Just like a commercial or a movie, if you are using someone elses intellectual property to help sell your product and increase customers, the artist should be compensated.

Artists already get screwed as it is from ASCAP/BMI with terrestial radio, why should they get screwed over on the internet as well?

Please don't argue "it's free publicity man", because artists get jack from album sales. The real money is in mechanical, synch, and performance rights.
posted by remlapm at 1:17 PM on July 26, 2002


remlapam, if the legislation merely gave a non-profit exemption would you be comfortable with that?
posted by machaus at 1:28 PM on July 26, 2002


Radio stations and other web broadcasters are making money off of streaming music ( however small).

In the case of my station: minus a few thousand dollars. The station owner pays for broadcast fees for ASCAP/BMI and the servers, the producers pay out of pocket for the records and CDs they buy for their shows. Boy, we are making money!

the artist should be compensated.

Puh-leeze.
posted by y2karl at 1:30 PM on July 26, 2002


Please don't argue "it's free publicity man", because artists get jack from album sales. The real money is in mechanical, synch, and performance rights.

How would I learn about the bands whose performances I eventually go to if not for my internet radio (I listen to the stream from KEXP in Seattle, mostly)? Publicity, it seems, is about more than just album sales.

Artists already get screwed as it is from ASCAP/BMI with terrestrial radio, why should they get screwed over on the internet as well?

The current fee structure is forcing internet radio stations out of business, leaving artists with only terrestrial radio (which is screwing the artists, apparently) as an outlet. It seems like a reasonable solution would be to impose a fee structure that compensates the artists while allowing the internet stations to remain in business. This is not the solution that the RIAA supports. I don't think anyone's asking for a free ride here (except, on preview of machaus' comment, non-profits).
posted by mr_roboto at 1:36 PM on July 26, 2002


machaus' suggestion seems to have a lot of merit if one assumes that radio broadcasters should pay the artist. If it holds true for the web, then it should hold true for the wave-based radio stations as well... I don't think that'll be happening anytime soon... Just because it is possible to count the number of listeners on the web and it's not possible elsewhere doesn't mean that web-radio should be levvied.

Please don't argue "it's free publicity man", because artists get jack from album sales. The real money is in mechanical, synch, and performance rights.

I'm not sure what "mechanical" and "synch" means, but I am damned sure that the music industry's latest teenie cash-cow would get nowhere without top-40 radio and TRL. I bet 90% of those kids heard it on the radio first and went to the concert second.
posted by kahboom at 1:40 PM on July 26, 2002


Here are definitions of those terms:
http://www.ascap.com/licensing/termsdefined.html
posted by timeistight at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2002


if the legislation merely gave a non-profit exemption would you be comfortable with that

No I wouldn't. PBS pays massive ASCAP fees each year as they should. Non=profit does not always mean zero revenue. If PBS is using the latest Rolling Stones song to promote a telethon, the Rolling Stones should get compensated.

Take Mefi for example, it's ( basically ) non-profit. The only money made is put back into the site. Let's say Matt streamed his MP3' collection while we all wandered around flaming eachother.

He is using music to attract users and sell more text ads. It sucks, but really the artists should be compensated.

I would love free music on the web, but at the artists expense?

The current fee structure is forcing internet radio stations out of business

Fine, I agree, change the fee structure, just make sure there IS a fee.

Also:

Mechanical rights: If you wanted to sell a mix tape, exercise video, or give out a recruitment video with music, you must pay mechanical rights for usage of that song.

Synchronization rights: Synching a song up to video or vocals. When Windows used Madonna's "ray of light" on that commercial with everyone flying around, they paid Madonna ( or her publisher ) synch rights.

Performance: A public broadcast of the song. When Katie Couric is talking and there is music in the background, the artist gets performance rights from ASCAP. Every bar you go to with a jukebox pays ASCAP and BMI money each year to play music from it ( usually about $350 ). It's not an actual concert.
posted by remlapm at 1:49 PM on July 26, 2002


Oh, and I am on your side guys, but as an artist myself, I have to look out for us too.

*side note* at a job interview yesterday, I learned some shocking things that are in the works to get more money from the internet. Everything from Nokia Ring Tone provider sites to shutting down MP3.com and charging CDNow to stream samples of the CD's you want to buy*
posted by remlapm at 1:53 PM on July 26, 2002


For the last time, this isn't about free radio.

This is about a royalty rate that is cost-prohibitive to all except the wealthiest broadcasters. By imposing a fee that is NOT based on a percentage-of-revenue, the RIAA is effectively snuffing out small-time competition.

if you are using someone elses intellectual property to help sell your product and increase customers, the artist should be compensated.

Yes, and that compensation should be a percentage of the money you make, not some arbitrary per-listener horseshit.
posted by scottandrew at 1:57 PM on July 26, 2002


Fine, I agree, change the fee structure, just make sure there IS a fee.

Well, remlapm, I'm not sure you understand the debate here. In your original post, you claimed you supported the RIAA. The RIAA is the major backer of the existing fee structure. 'Net broadcasters aren't trying to eliminate all fees, they just want a copyright arbitration procedure that's more fair to small businesses and the doesn't place onerous reporting requirements on internet radio stations. If you had read the article linked in the original post, you would have seen that the proposed legislation does not eliminate fees, but rather puts in place a more fair arbitration process. No one is trying to screw artists here. Except, of course, the RIAA.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:00 PM on July 26, 2002


I don't know if this is "internet radio" or not, but I just found it, and, while it might be a good Friday Afternoon Fun link (and something that I'll sure be working on this weekend), I'll leave it here.

I present to you: Andromeda. Forget about shoutcast, which streams what set up in advance. This tool is "pull" and you can create your own internet radio (which I don't know the specifics of yet -- I'm waiting to receive the email with the software) that just might be legal.
posted by zpousman at 2:33 PM on July 26, 2002


Does the royalty rate in effect and published for Web radio take into account the economies of scale NOT enjoyed by Webcasters. The cost/listener over the Web is much higher than for Hertzian broadcasting. How are these rates really computed?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:39 PM on July 26, 2002


remlapm, what's your take on the recent Janis Ian article The Internet Debacle - An Alternate View? I know that she was writing about peer-to-peer networking and downloading music, but this paragraph struck me as appropriate for a discussion of streaming music:
Free exposure is practically a thing of the past for entertainers. Getting your record played at radio costs more money than most of us dream of ever earning. Free downloading gives a chance to every do-it-yourselfer out there. Every act that can't get signed to a major, for whatever reason, can reach literally millions of new listeners, enticing them to buy the CD and come to the concerts. Where else can a new act, or one that doesn't have a label deal, get that kind of exposure?
I know that you asked not to argue the "it's free publicity" line, but Ian does make that argument pretty well, and has some numbers (and money) to show for it.
posted by bragadocchio at 4:21 PM on July 26, 2002


A huge distinction here is that the copyrights owners of sound recordings have traditionally never received performance royalties because they make their money from the sale of the recording. So far there is no impirical, independent evidence that shows that webcasting diminishes sales, but that is the major argument for the royalty. The traditional royalties for the copyrighted composition are already in place.
posted by anathema at 4:45 PM on July 26, 2002


Webcasting has, however, diminished the health of my wallet, which finds its contents being lessened frequently when I hear a new song on the web and run out to purchase the CD. While that's my own personal experience, I can't be the only one who doesn't like the choice of radio stations in the area where I live. I rely upon webcasting to hear new music. Without it, I would be happy to listen to the many CDs I already own.
posted by bragadocchio at 5:36 PM on July 26, 2002


remlapm: If the artist actualy got any of the money I might be tempted to care...
posted by delmoi at 6:46 PM on July 26, 2002


remlapm -- I think you're wrong in assuming that everyone participating in Internet broadcasting is out to make a buck. There are literally thousands of free Internet streams out there. Check out a site like Shoutcast, for instance, and you'll see that the large majority of broadcasters are hobbyists who want nothing more than to share their favorite music and be exposed to the music of others. I've been streaming for about a year off and on, and haven't walked away with a single red cent during that time. But I have been listened to, and at times fairly frequently. Does that mean that I should be bled for money that I never made off of my hobby? What justification can you give, as an artist, for collecting a portion of revenues that I've never received?
posted by dogmatic at 9:22 PM on July 26, 2002


Hear! Hear!
posted by y2karl at 12:42 AM on July 27, 2002


These rates are no more favorable to large webcasters as small ones. Due to bandwidth costs, there are no strong economies of scale in Internet radio. Large webcasters have no advantage here. They have the same negative profit margins multiplied times many more streams than the small guys.

Special treatment given to non-profits is absurd. Just because one chooses to work for a company with shareholders doesn't mean he is less passionate about the music (or whatever other industry there is). Didn't you hear about that study in which they showed that for-profit lifeguards were much more attentive than the volunteer Red Cross ones?

The government should remedy this excessive royalty problem for everyone, not just one group.
posted by hitsman at 10:40 AM on July 27, 2002


I did not hear of that lifeguard study. Link, please.
posted by poseur at 10:47 AM on July 27, 2002


remlapm, I'm confused as to exactly how funnelling money exorbant amounts of money from profitless internet radio stations into the RIAA ever actually helps the actual artist in any way except the huge artists by drying up private artists' chance of publicity on a medium which it is feasibly obtained.../me agrees with delmoi
posted by thadk at 11:52 PM on July 27, 2002


Lifeguard reference (in 2nd section). Not exactly a study, but you get the point.
posted by hitsman at 12:19 AM on July 28, 2002


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