Congress won't likely touch Internet Radio Fairness Act until after elections

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Issue Date: 
Sep 24 2012 - 12:25pm

From Issue:

The webcasting industry-backed Internet Radio Fairness Act, introduced to both chambers of Congress on Friday (see RAIN here), made The New York Times this morning, and journalist Ben Sisario presented the complicated manner in as clear and straightforward a way as we've seen.

"Willing buyer, willing seller. Those four words would seem innocuous, but in the world of Internet radio nothing is more contentious," read the opening paragraph.

As we reported, the bill would move noninteractive webcast services from the "willing buyer, willing seller" standard to the one used to determine rates for SiriusXM Radio and cable radio like Music Choice (known as 801(b), which is also the standard that record labels are happy is used when the rates for royalty rates they pay to songwriters and publishers are determined).

"That model would let the panel of federal judges that set the rates consider evidence both on the value of the music and on the effect the royalty rate would have on the industry overall. Pandora and its supporters believe that standard would yield lower rates," according to The Times. "Record labels and artists... believe that the existing rates are fair and accuse Pandora and others of wanting to deprive copyright holders of the income they deserve."

Congress will likely wait to deliberate the issue until after the national elections in November ("and probably into the spring," wrote Sisario).

We highly recommend Sisario's concise and even-handed treatment of the matter, and recommend you share it with listeners and clients. You can see it in The New York Times here. Finally, for a clear and entertaining analogy that demonstrates why "willing buyer, willing seller" can't work, please see RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson's "State of the Industry Address" from last week's RAIN Summit Dallas here (you can also launch the audio from the box in the right-hand margin of RAIN) -- scroll ahead, it's near the end (about 20 minutes in) of the speech.

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