Will Net Radio Live?

http://bryan.coolmojo.net/?p=307

So we’re less than a week away from July 15th, when the new royalty rates for web-based radio go into effect – all but destroying the diversity of the medium. SoundExchange, the RIAA founded organization set up to collect the royalty rates, has proposed something they call a settlement.

According to the SFWeekly, the purposes of the proposal are a little more devious:

The increased royalties set by the Copyright Royalty Board on March 2 came with a distinct catch. Webcasters are free to ink direct licensing deals with labels for a lower rate than the one set by the board. Direct licensing allows major labels to apply economic pressure to Webcasters who were formerly concerned with playing the best music.

If Net radio stations don’t win their fight, playing whatever they want will become prohibitively expensive. Playing crap, however, won’t be. Under the new rules it would be economically logical for cash-strapped Webcasters to take discounted rates to play music the labels want them to play. Instead of the labels paying the Webcasters, the Webcasters pay the labels less. Dark payola.

It’s a brilliant strategy – strong arm a medium into becoming another marketing tool.

According to KCRW, there’s also one more nefarious portion of the new proposal:

But what their press release didn’t mention, was the quid pro quo nature of their offer. Sound Exchange would reduce their administrative fee, if those organizations agreed to abandon their legislative efforts to protest the royalty rates now and in the future. In addition, the fee reduction would only be good for 18 more months, thereby forcing those organizations to fight all over again in 2009 against the same problem.

It is a disturbing aspect of the new proposal – abandon your right (some would say duty) to lobby your congressional representatives on issues you deem important, and settle for whatever SoundExchange proposes. It’s an absurd part of the proposal, as regulating this industry is exactly what needs to happen to stop the RIAA and its stranglehold on mediums they clearly want to control.

In any case, congress has six days to deal with this before the July 15th deadline arrives. If you have a moment, please give your congressional representative and state senators a call. SaveNetRadio.Org has some great information on contacting your representatives.

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