Judge Says Too Bad To Webcasters Upset About New Webcast Rates

from the sorry,-nothing-can-be-done dept

Last month, when the RIAA pushed through new webcasting royalty rates that were clearly designed to kill off a lot of webcasters, many people said not to worry, that the whole thing was just part of a negotiation. While the Copyright Royalty Board finally noticed that people weren’t too happy about the new rates and agreed to hold some hearings, today they rejected those complaints and said that they won’t change the rates, and everyone better pay up by May 15th. Webcasters are now looking to appeal to both the Appeals Court as well as Congress — but recognize that either move will probably take a while, and go well beyond the May 15th deadline. The end result, of course, is actually going to hurt the music industry greatly. Webcasting has always been a huge promotional driver for artists — especially niche artists who wouldn’t get any publicity any other way. The recording industry apparently still hasn’t figured out that it can expand its market by letting people promote the content for it. Instead, it wants to charge for that promotion, in a short-sighted effort to charge for every use of the content, even ones that expand the market and allow the overall industry to make much more money.

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Comments on “Judge Says Too Bad To Webcasters Upset About New Webcast Rates”

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MadJo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

where can they get that kind of money from? Remember, the copyright’s board wants to see this money from January 1st 2006! (no, that’s not a typo)
That’s a full year, and a few months of payments that they expect to see soon.

You could try to help the webcasters by donating, and donating lots, but this measure is absolutely sure to kill off many smaller webcasters, because they don’t have that kind of money.

it’s really weird, airtime broadcasters get paid payola by the records industry, even though they don’t have bandwidth bills as extensive as webcasters, while webcasters are being bullied out of existance by these measures. I hate the big labels even more now (never knew that was possible)

Hey Universal, Sony/BMG, and all other big labels, listen up.
I’ve stopped buying your records. I won’t buy another single, cd, digital music piece from you ever again.
You’ve set an example of how NOT to do business. You won’t get a dime from me ever again.

My cd-money will go to the webcasters and indie artists that need it much more than your overpaid lawyers need!
RIAA (and MPAA), you are scum of the world!

Rusty Hodge says:

Re: Pay up? With what money?

For many stations, the new royalties are 250-400% of their gross revenues. How can they pay up when they don’t have the money in the first place?

For SomaFM, we’re talking about an increase from $20,000 to $600,000 retroactive for 2006. And $1 million in fees for 2007.

Any VCs out there who want to help out, you know where to contact us. 🙂

Adam Singer (user link) says:

to quote lawerence lessig's free culture on the su

The Librarian of Congress eventually suspended these reporting requirements, pending further study. And he also changed the original rates set by the arbitration panel charged with setting rates. But the basic difference between Internet radio and terrestrial radio remains: Internet radio has to pay a type of copyright fee that terrestrial radio does not.

Why? What justifies this difference? Was there any study of the economic consequences from Internet radio that would justify these differences? Was the motive to protect artists against piracy?

In a rare bit of candor, one RIAA expert admitted what seemed obvious to everyone at the time. As Alex Alben, vice president for Public Policy at Real Networks, told me,

The RIAA, which was representing the record labels, presented some testimony about what they thought a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller, and it was much higher. It was ten times higher than what radio stations pay to perform the same songs for the same period of time. And so the attorneys representing the webcasters asked the RIAA, . . . “How do you come up with a rate that’s so much higher? Why is it worth more than radio? Because here we have hundreds of thousands of webcasters who want to pay, and that should establish the market rate, and if you set the rate so high, you’re going to drive the small webcasters out of business. . . .”

And the RIAA experts said, “Well, we don’t really model this as an industry with thousands of webcasters, we think it should be an industry with, you know, five or seven big players who can pay a high rate and it’s a stable, predictable market.” (Emphasis added.)

Translation: The aim is to use the law to eliminate competition, so that this platform of potentially immense competition, which would cause the diversity and range of content available to explode, would not cause pain to the dinosaurs of old. There is no one, on either the right or the left, who should endorse this use of the law. And yet there is practically no one, on either the right or the left, who is doing anything effective to prevent it.

Jack Conner says:

The law

I for one intend to keep broadcasting and ignore these new fees. Either enforce it across the board which includes terrestrial radio.

Internet radio is the way of the future and nobody, not nobody can change that.

Its time to stand up to these bullies once and for all. I encourage everyone to take names of these people so we can show them why Americans dont like it when stuff like this is allowed to happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

I remember when a small group of subservient webcasters got together with the RIAA and made this back room “deal” a few years ago. This small group claimed to represent the webcasting industry although most of the industry had never even heard of them. Also, there were a lot of webcasters at the time lobbying to have webcasters treated the same as other broadcasters before this fake “deal” was pushed through congress. They felt betrayed by this small group and felt that a deal had been made with the devil. Well, it turns out they were right. This is what happens when you try to deal with the devil.

Victor Agreda Jr (user link) says:

RIAA reps everyone, like it or not

Voice of Reason, we interviewed Tim Westergren of Pandora and he explained that the RIAA “speaks” for everyone, even the kids in a garage band, whether they like it or not. It isn’t opt-in. Pandora, in fact, plays a ton of indie bands. However, the RIAA has pushed this issue, and according to the ruling, this simply counts for EVERY song being played. It has nothing to do with fairness or justice or sound economic sense. It has to do with the RIAA mafia protecting their turf. So you pay to play, no matter who you play.

Chalk up another pyhrric victory for the recording industry. They’d rather sue us all to the stone ages than actually modify their own business model. Great for economy, huh?

Mike says:

Not helping

Seriously? The only option left is to pirate?
So if the local corner story raises the price of milk to a level you think is bad business, you’ll simply have no choice but to steal it?

Look, I agree that the RIAA is consistently making bad business decisions and alienating customers, but comments like this are only perpetuating that situation. They are what the RIAA point to demonstrate that all ‘the other side’ wants is free music. Let’s raise the level of intelligence in the discussion please.

And as much as we’d all like it to be otherwise, free music (or video or theater or any other kind of artistic content) isn’t a god-given right. Music labels still have a say over how their artists are distributed, and if they want to charge ridiculous rates and kill webcasting, it’s up to them to do so. Boycott them and let the market decide, sure. But don’t try to sell pirating as a noble gesture for the cause of copyright reform.

robert leighton (user link) says:

work around the law with this webcaster

My name is Robert Leighton, a veteran of more than 25 years in the telecommunications industry and President of Visionary Productions, Inc.

To the point. I would like to partner with organizations to provide no cost, high tech video webcam webcast technology to the music industry. I am not talking about a streamed music video webcast but a live webcam feed that provides realtime interaction with the performers. No conflict with royalties since it is 1st admendment speach being presented not licenced videos. I feel that I have a web technology that is poised to open a entirely new market for the entertainment industry.

What am I talking about? IPTV ( Internet protocol TV) . Internet radio is fine but IPTV is so much more. I would go so far as to say that “today it’s about artist having a personal IPTV STATION”. Our personal viral marketing device comes with 2 streaming audio/video channels, an HTML presentation area with linkable graphics, IRC chat, e-mail and up to 10 hours of video archive capacity (for the “Best of” collection). It is about live and archived communication between the fans and the bands. Viewers could actually talk to the their favorite lead singer or check out an unknown performer while viewing the artist storefront. You get the idea.

I am president of a company that provides webcasting technology and server capacity for a variety of business environments. My job is to use this new technology to create unique Web TV Channels. Yes I said Channels because with our E Stations, each band or artist or Fanclub President will have their own 24/7/365 video webcast TV channel.

* These webcasts channels offer new distribution outlets and sales opportunities for partner organizations and our webcast stations are pay per view friendly. An entirely new market of live PPV events for near famous bands or individual artist may present itself. A “Meet the Band” webcast could be a great new draw for your website.

I would be happy to meet with a representative of your company by phone or online.
Should we meet online, I will quickly demonstrate my companies live webcast technology and detail for you my vision of IPTV channels for the common man or band.

Robert Leighton

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