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Thursday, March 05, 2009

SoundExchange Offers Webcasters Unacceptable Take-It-Or-Leave-It Offer

From Radio & Internet Newsletter:
In a column today about the ongoing judicial appeal of the 2006-10 CRB royalty decision, San Francisco-based MarketWatch columnist Therese Poletti writes, "The dysfunctional music industry suffers from a classic case of biting the hand that feeds it.

"Over the last two years," she notes, "record companies have tried to squeeze excessive royalties from Internet-radio stations — the very stations that can help fuel future digital-music sales — and it's endangering some Web-based radio firms." Poletti argues that the exposure and sales Internet radio affords and generates are benefits, not challenges to the embattled industry.

Most who are close to negotiations seem to want to stay mum about the situation; Poletti says reps of Pandora and SoundExchange didn't want to talk to her.

But Michael Spiegelman, head of Yahoo Music, is somewhat more removed, as his company recently turned over its webcasting business to CBS Radio (as has AOL, both companies citing the rising costs of licensing as a major impetus). Spiegelman told MarketWatch, "Internet radio facilitated discovery while compensating artists and labels for their effort. They may feel in the short term (the high royalty rate) gets them a better revenue stream. But in the short term, it's driving the Webcasters out of business."

Closer to the action is Jon Potter, head of DiMA (Digital Media Association, which represents large company webcasters). He says the record industry isn't even actually negotiating. "We were presented with a take-it-or-leave-it offer from SoundExchange. It was unacceptable."

Poletti, a senior columnist for MarketWatch, concludes, "I hope the appellate court is more sympathetic to the young Webcasting firms than the CRB. But the music industry never should have let their negotiations derail this badly. Once again, the industry seems to be using artists as a cover for incessant greed. Instead, they should encourage as much legal digital music as possible."
Read the entire MarketWatch story here.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Webcasters Submit Briefs This Month

No, not that kind of briefs. Legal briefs, silly. The briefs are part of webcasters' appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the Copyright Royalty Board's monumental March 2007 mistake raising far beyond reason the copyright royalty rate on internet radio.

From The Radio And Internet Newsletter (RAIN):
According to the timeline currently in place, the briefs of the various webcasters are due on Feb. 25.

The brief of the CRB, represented by the Department of Justice, is due on April 25, and SoundExchange’s brief is due on May 15. The reply briefs are due on June 12, but oral arguments have not yet been scheduled. Such a calendar suggests that the appeal will be decided at the end of 2008, at the earliest.

Until then, the parties may continue to negotiate and reach agreement outside of court, as has already occurred. SoundExchange, representing the music industry, has shown a desire to achieve separate agreements among the parties, rather than a comprehensive settlement that covers all parties…

The royalty rate legislation that is before Congress, if enacted, may ultimately nullify the Court of Appeals’ decision and any agreements SoundExchange has entered.

Still, what is needed is a rate structure that is technology-neutral…
Read bout it in the New York Law Journal via KurtHanson.com.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What Does Digital Freedom Mean To You?

Well, it certainly doesn't mean buying intentionally damaged media that won't play on the media player you got for your birthday. Nor does it mean trekking down to some giant store to buy a gift card that you have to take back home to redeem online for one of the 37 titles made available through this genius campaign.

This video from DigitalFreedom.org featuring Middle Distance Runner gives an example of what the landscape could look like for emerging artists in today's increasingly digital consumer society:

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