Hogan's Alley

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Death Of Internet Radio Is Imminent

One of the great features of the internet has been the capacity to listen to an extraordinary array of sources of music, information and talk from around the world via audio streaming.

An arcane entity called the Copyright Royalty Board, a creation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1996. That piece of legislation is a wholly bought and paid for creation of the major labels of the record industry, the major movie studios and other related business giants. It is pure K Street product, filtered through the Congress for the sake of appearances.

What the Copyright Royalty Board is proposing to do is significantly raise the royalty rates to be paid to the owners of recordings, the large record companies, presumably with some share of the total going to the actual creators of the music, the artists who wrote and performed it. No one objects to paying the creators for their work, but anyone who has ever paid attention to the music business is familiar with the extraordinary accounting creativity of the music and movie businesses that make it a regular occurence that big selling songs or movies produce pennies or often nothing, to their creators.

The large expansion in these royalties, retroactive to 2006, is a particular hardship on public radio stations and other nonprofit or small independent sources of programming. Most of these will be forced to stop their webcasting.

David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, has a lengthy explanation of the problem. (Thanks for the heads up from Andrew Sullivan.)

If you have ever enjoyed the discovery of musical joy found in a station from abroad or across the country, please consider signing this petition set up by Save the Streams.org in an attempt to influence Congress to intervene.

The internet will be a poorer place if this goes through.

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