The Library of Congress blew it.
June 20, 2002 2:40 PM   Subscribe

The Library of Congress blew it. I watched some of the hearings about the CARP-proposed webcasting fees, and I had the impression that the people at the Library got it. I was wrong. So instead of having all their limbs chopped off, webcasters can now expect only to be cut off at the knees. The end result will be the same, though; say goodbye to Internet radio.
posted by geneablogy (30 comments total)
The future looks dim for live365, that's for sure.

On the bright side, this only limits the rebroadcast of major-label copyrighted songs, correct? I can stream all the unsigned, indie bay area bands I want to from my personal shoutcast server, as long as I have permission from the bands? And I can broadcast my own recordings without paying anyone?
posted by mathowie at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2002

Note that these rates are retroactive:
The Librarian established September 1, 2002 as the effective date of the rates. That does not mean that no royalties are due for webcasters’ activities prior to September 1. Webcasters and others using the statutory licenses will have to pay royalties for all of their activities under the licenses since October 28, 1998.
posted by lbergstr at 3:00 PM on June 20, 2002

Am I right in assuming that these regulations only apply to companies and individuals running servers in the US.

For instance, are royalties due if some dude running Winamp in texas hooks up to my stream coming out of New Zealand and listens to a new Pacifier (who are signed to a US label) song?
posted by Foaf at 3:06 PM on June 20, 2002

Between this and ClearChannel I think the on;y thing left to do is boycott.

Turn off your radios each wednesday for 24 hours. Until they wake up and get the message from us, their sponsors.
posted by BentPenguin at 3:12 PM on June 20, 2002

"Turn off your radios each wednesday for 24 hours. Until they wake up and get the message from us, their sponsors."

That assumes the radio is actually on. I think mine has dust on the power knob, it's been off for so long.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:14 PM on June 20, 2002

It also assumes you have an aritron book. If you don't, then they won't even know about your protest.
posted by willnot at 3:19 PM on June 20, 2002

Same with mine, crash. And we don't even have that many clear channel stations in Portland. I just can't stand the crappy playlists and the commercials.
posted by SpecialK at 3:25 PM on June 20, 2002

I have mixed opinions on this. On one hand I sympathize with the artists who are screwed to an extent by internet radio, on the other hand its free publicity and on the third hand the RIAA gets the bulk of the money anyway. I haven't gotten into the internet radio much at all, except to occasionally listen in to 2600's Off the Hook. I don't know where to start looking for interesting shows or music.

Local radio sucks (all Clear Channel or their approximations) so I mostly listen to CDs or MP3. What I really miss about the radio is what I grew up with. WRIF out of Detroit City was your standard album rock radio station but at one time the DJs had a lot more influence over what would get played. They'd have their own shows, usually after prime time, where they could play local talent, or different scenes that wouldn't make it during the prime hours. That was awesome. I also liked that the DJs would be willing to say "this album just sucks".

What I'd like to see is a internet radio station like GodsOfMusic that plays, reviews and interviews acts that allow free play and distribution of their music. Maybe it already exists, if it does, please give me a link!
posted by substrate at 3:51 PM on June 20, 2002

Who will do the policing to enforce these fees?
posted by delapohl at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2002

Most of the artists I listen to aren't signed to an RIAA member label, so a lot of this ruling doesn't affect me. All I can see resulting from this is continued growth of independent and non-RIAA music on the web. With all the major label artists being forbidden territory for streaming, stations will have to find replacements... I think this is good.
posted by mkn at 4:22 PM on June 20, 2002

On one hand I sympathize with the artists who are screwed to an extent by internet radio, on the other hand its free publicity and on the third hand the RIAA gets the bulk of the money anyway.

How do artists get screwed by internet radio? Generally, the streams aren't recorded and almost 100% of the time the bitrate is so pathetic its not worth recording. I don't really understand the premise of that first part of that sentance unless people are streaming full albums at high quality and people are recoding them thus making the buying of albums obsolete.

Perhaps they're being screwed because no royalty is being paid like in commercial broadcast radio? Even then you have to take quality into consideration before equating the two. Not to mention that the arbitration board refuses to see a fair right use of non-commercially streaming some of the songs you own.

This is big win for the RIAA. The arbritration panel gave big breaks to already existing radio stations (especially the RIAA dominated top40) and is helping to shut out non-RIAA bands from getting exposure through the fees. From what I can tell it looks like the RIAA is get the retroactive money regardless of label or non-signed status.

I don't think internet radio is dead its just going to move that much more underground. Commercial internet radio may be dying as ad revenue may not be enough to stay afloat. Or they could move towards a subscription based model, but that's pretty much a death sentance on the internet.
posted by skallas at 4:26 PM on June 20, 2002

Wow. This is incredibly frustrating news, especially since the interim LOC ruling in May gave supporters of internet radio at least a glimmer of hope that a government body would do the sensible thing. Instead of cultivating a fledgling industry full of financial and cultural potential, it has killed it. Very sad. Actually it really really sucks.

On another note related to mathowie's question, does this ruling also apply to major indie labels such as 4AD, Subpop, TVT, etc.? I'm was never really sure if they were connected with the RIAA at all.
posted by rowell at 4:35 PM on June 20, 2002

Take a look and find out, rowell. Still, even though the evil empire was behind these rates, I believe they do apply to all music, not just RIAA stuff. Maybe indie labels will negotiate with webcasters and waive the fees (which is what everybody assumes RIAA labels will do for each other when they decide to start webcasting).
posted by Eamon at 5:01 PM on June 20, 2002

Wait. This is being reported as a “victory for Internet music broadcasters”, they're practically getting everything they want. Hell some guy from Gartner says “It's good news for a number of Internet webcasters who will now likely be able to stay on the air.”

The news wouldn't lie to me it would it?
posted by raaka at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2002

Perhaps they're being screwed because no royalty is being paid like in commercial broadcast radio?

At Live365, at least, ASCAP/BMI/SESAC license fees *are* paid. (This didn't stop SESAC from sending me a shakedown letter this week, though.)

Artists are IN NO WAY being screwed by getting airplay! My stream is AM radio quality. No one is going to record and save that. We are providing airplay and publicity for artists. Many artists themselves send me cds and ask me to play them on the station.

raaka, the fees being requested are still high enough that they will likely knock many of us off the air. I am waiting to see how L365 decides to spread out the fees, but I am not hopeful. I have never seen a dime from the station, and never really expected to; this means that I can't afford to spend much more on it.

The ridiculous thing is that I have spent a ton of money on records for the darned station. The RIAA got that from me, plus the free publicity for so many of their artists. The artists deserve it; the RIAA does not.

People who say "just play non-RIAA artists" miss the point, I think. You can't force people to only like non-RIAA music. Last time I checked, on L365 there were two stations that recreated a much-loved Seattle station of the 1980s, KJET, with KJET artists, soundbites, jingles, etc. On that stream I heard some great songs that I hadn't heard in 15 years, that would never be played on your mainstream "hits of the 80s" station, that are even out of print completely. Stop playing RIAA bands, and those songs are lost again. I would find that a substantial loss.
posted by litlnemo at 5:39 PM on June 20, 2002

Eamon's right, CARP relates to ALL music. It gives the holder of a copyright on a recording the right to collect royalties at or up to a certain rate. The RIAA represents all the copyright holders listed in Eamon's link. If someone isn't on that list, it would be up to them if they wanted to charge a webcaster or not.

As much as this sucks, it could be a great opportunity for labels not represented by the RIAA. If they're willing to waive/lower their royalty fees they could instantly gain an airtime monopoly with the small to medium sized webcasting crowd.
posted by alan at 5:43 PM on June 20, 2002

I'm almost certain this will be the death of internet radio, much like napster going bankrupt was the death of peer-to-peer file swapping.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:57 PM on June 20, 2002

I don’t see why internet radio should be different—in any way—from broadcast radio. Broadcasters don’t have to pay per-song royalties because they are already promoting the music, and I don’t understand why that wouldn’t apply to webcasters. However, I also don’t see why internet radio should cost less than broadcast radio, or be free.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:28 PM on June 20, 2002

Live365 (for example) is already paying ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, kirkaracha. That is just like broadcast radio. I don't think most people are saying that netcasters shouldn't have to pay those fees.

What's worse is that SESAC is demanding that some of us who dare to commit the heinous sin of linking to our Live365 feeds from our own websites pay full SESAC licensing fees, based on page requests from our sites (with a minimum fee to be paid, of course), not even on total listeners! This is even though Live365, the broadcaster of record, has ALREADY paid those fees.

This is sheer bullying and I don't see any justification for it.

Between CARP and SESAC's bullying, the odds of keeping d23Radio going are looking awfully slim.
posted by litlnemo at 8:41 PM on June 20, 2002

no more groove salad? :(
posted by elphTeq at 8:52 PM on June 20, 2002

Doesnt this just push these sites out of the US?
posted by timetostepback at 9:16 PM on June 20, 2002

The only radio I listen to anymore is in Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III. As things like XM Satellite Radio catch on the regular stations will have to do something.
posted by McBain at 9:30 PM on June 20, 2002

Wait. This is being reported as a “victory for Internet music broadcasters”

Someone forgot to tell the broadcasters that they won, then. This, from the web site of WFMU in Jersey City, NJ, one of the terrestrial stations that has gained the most from the use of Internet streaming:

On Thursday, the US Copyright Office re-accepted most of the new taxes on webcasting which they rejected a month earlier. But fear not, WFMU will not stop streaming or archiving. More information will be posted here in coming days.

Good for WFMU for saying they'll keep streaming, but they don't sound happy about it. And in the last plea for money we received from them, they said that there was a possibility that their stream could be limited to those people who gave "Mouse of Tomorrow"-level pledges of $330/year (something we did until I lost my job early this year). Welcome to the future of Internet radio.
posted by geneablogy at 10:10 PM on June 20, 2002

"... and the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools trying to anaesthetize the way that you feel ..."

(Of course, to stream Elvis' scathing indictment against the music industry would require paying them a fee. Oh, the irony.)
posted by at 1:07 AM on June 21, 2002

The impression was given that if a group isn't an RIAA member, than they collect the money for them anyways in a special fund. So even non-RIAA bands would cost money to play? (But I might be confusing RIAA with ASCAP or BMI)
posted by drezdn at 1:20 AM on June 21, 2002

Bah, radio is dead, commercial music is really dead, film has been dead, tv is dying, and the interenet is in really bad shape. All because of the desire to make a few extra bucks. (I'm not talkig about making a living, I'm talking about making extreme amounts of money.

I can't wait for the media entertainment revolution - surely one is coming, eventually.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:37 AM on June 21, 2002

Film dead before TV?

I don't buy it.
posted by dogmatic at 8:01 AM on June 21, 2002

SomaFM is dead. BlueMars is dead.
posted by darukaru at 8:28 AM on June 21, 2002

I'm a Live365 braodcaster, and this decision means that my Live365 bills are going to increase; by how much is not yet clear. I think I'm going to stick with it if it's at all affordable, but I think it may not be enough to save Live365 and internet radio in general. Unless bandwidth costs go way down or Congress passes some legislation to allow for a lower royalty rate, internet radio will be gone in two years.

Cheap Plug For My Webcast - All 80s! ;)
posted by DWRoelands at 9:01 AM on June 21, 2002

Damn shame, bluemars was my favorite online station. Now I am going to have to listen to idle office chit chit, I'd rather listen to fingernails running down a blackboard.
posted by jasonspaceman at 11:11 AM on June 21, 2002

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