One of the better attempts by a legislator to give a helping hand to the RIAA and the recording industry was the PERFORM Act, introduced last year by a bipartisan partnership of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham. A doozy of a piece of legislation, it would have required the use of DRM for all streaming audio, as well as forced satellite radio providers to pay a second licensing fee for the music they play because it could be streamed to a computer, and somebody might record it. It was part of a concerted effort by the RIAA to hamstring satellite radio companies, since it freaked out when they released products that could record music. The radio companies (and most reasonable observers) saw these products as akin to a VCR, which, of course, the Betamax case protects, so in addition to suing XM, the RIAA ran to Congress. The PERFORM Act didn't go anywhere in the last session, so it's hardly surprising to see Feinstein and Graham have basically reintroduced it in this session. The RIAA has hailed the bill, saying its introduction by "Sen. Feinstein and her colleagues should leave no doubt that policymakers continue to view parity among digital music services as a top priority." Not to single out one party, since this is a bipartisan bad idea, but somehow I don't remember "protecting the RIAA's outdated business models" as one of the tenets of the Democrat's "First 100 Hours" push. The head of the RIAA adds that satellite radio companies are ripping off musicians, once again trying to play the fairness card. Keep in mind, though, that this bill would increase the royalties paid to the RIAA-backed SoundExchange royalty clearinghouse -- the group that conveniently can't find a bunch of musicians to whom royalties are owed. And when it can't find people to pay, guess who gets to keep the money.
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