More picking sides in webcaster royalty debate

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 12:45pm

Artists, special interest groups, and industry organizations continue to choose their side of the line regarding Internet radio royalties.

Several conservative organizations have written Capitol Hill in opposition to the Internet Radio Fairness Act, the bill that seeks to bring webcasters' royalties more in line with those of other forms of digital radio. The bill has been slammed by the American Conservative Union, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform, and Citizens Against Government Waste. CAGW president Thomas Schatz wrote, "While we agree with the basic premise that all [digital radio] services should be treated equally, it should be under market-based standards. It is imperative that Congress protect intellectual property rights, and allow the free-market to work in pricing negotiations."

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune here and in CNet here.

Meanwhile, the largest federation of unions in the country, the AFL-CIO, has also voiced opposition to the bill.

Yet the group Americans for Limited Government group is supporting the IRFA. The group's president, Bill Wilson, conceded that the bill isn't perfect (here), but that it would indeed help "end unfair, anti-competitive royalty rate discrimination."

Read more in the National Journal here.

The Internet Radio Fairness Coalition (here), meanwhile, welcomed eight new members for its effort to gain support for the IRFA: Triton Digital, Senzari, HD103.com, TruLocal Media, Musera Radio, Digital Sound & Video, Pearadio, and Mark Ramsey Media. [RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson is also CEO of webcaster AccuRadio, a member of the IRFC, and he's spoken on the group's behalf.] 

Finally, at least one artist is speaking out for webcasters. While 125 recording stars signed on to an open letter advertisement panning Pandora and its efforts, (here), Patrick Laird (a member of the band Break of Reality) wrote in an op-ed in The Hill: "It is clear that the effectiveness of internet radio with regard to both product sales and promotional power is overwhelming, and the success and expansion of these companies are of the utmost importance for the future of our group. Internet radio creates an unparalleled opportunity for us to reach millions of people who otherwise might not discover music like ours."

Read Laird's full essay here.

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