Grover Norquist sides with record industry in opposing Net Radio Fairness legislation

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Issue Date: 
Nov 16 2012 - 11:00am

From Issue:

Opponents of the Internet Radio Fairness Act have a new ally: conservative activist Grover Norquist.

While he complains that the IRFA-proposed move to the "801(b)" standard for Net radio royalty-setting "moves... towards forced below market rates," he's not fan of the status quo either. In a letter to Senate and House Judiciary Members, Norquist gets a shot in at the "willing buyer willing seller standard," when he writes, "There is no way, ultimately, for a legislator to decide what the fair market value of a product or service is."

The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act stipulated that judges determining webcasting royalties attempt to determine the fair market value of music based on what they believe a "willing buyer" and "willing seller" would agree to. Mandating this standard was a significant departure from the more commonly used "801(b)" standard, used for satellite and cable radio (among other applications). The IRFA would move webcasting royalty determinations to 801(b), which supporters say more accurately reflects the public policy goal of copyright law, as it requires judges to make decisions that maximize the availability of creative works to the public, using the concept of "fairness" for both creators and distributors.

"Both the existing and proposed models pick winners and losers, rather than allowing free market negotiations," he wrote.

His call for a completely open market for negotiations between copyright owners and services actually exists: any copyright owner and any service can negotiate individual deals. The "government intervention" against which Norquist rails comes into play only after sides fail to reach terms for an "industry wide" rate.

Read Norquist's letter here. More coverage in The Hill here. H/T to the Digital Libery blog here.

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