$50k spent on lobbying in Q1 alone shows "they've grown up Washington-style"

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Issue Date: 
Jul 10 2012 - 11:45am

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National Journal's Influence Alley blog has put an eye towards the lobbying efforts of Pandora and its efforts to reform the way webcasting royalty rates are set by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board.

In 2007, when the webcaster fought for its very survival against a royalty determination that would have it paying 70% of its revenue in royalties, Pandora relied on the crowd-sourced power of its listeners to bombard lawmakers with calls, e-mails, and faxes. Now, they're a little more sophisticated, a little more "establishment." Columnist Elahe Izadi writes, "They've grown up Washington-style."

Pandora founder Tim Westergren has reportedly been a frequent visitor to Washington, D.C. Pandora's secured the public relations services of Story Partners, and two lobbying firms (Wheat Government Relations and TwinLogic Strategies). In fact, Pandora's lobbying spend from January 2011 through March of this year reportedly totals $230 thousand (according to OpenSecrets.org here, which is where we got the chart).

"We're looking for greater parity, specifically in the language in the way our rates our set. We're not looking for a specific rate," Westergren is quoted. And it's not necessarily parity with broadcasters (which, you may know, do not pay royalties for the use of copyright sound recordings).

Izadi writes, "The U.S. Copyright Royalty Board is tasked with setting rates for Internet and satellite radio companies, but they use different rules to determine those rates. Satellite companies such as Sirius XM can argue for lower than-market-value rates." Sirius will pay somewhere between 7% and 8% of its revenue for these royalties this year. Westergren says he's simply trying to get "the same leeway to advocate for lower royalties."

Read National Journal's Influence Alley here.

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