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Music Media Businesses The Internet

RIAA Claims Ownership of All Artist Royalties For Internet Radio 458

ISurfTooMuch writes "With the furor over the impending rate hike for Internet radio stations, wouldn't a good solution be for streaming internet stations to simply not play RIAA-affiliated labels' music and focus on independent artists? Sounds good, except that the RIAA's affiliate organization SoundExchange claims it has the right to collect royalties for any artist, no matter if they have signed with an RIAA label or not. 'SoundExchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, SoundExchange has the right to collect royalties for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free ... So how it works is that SoundExchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of SoundExchange and pay a fee to collect their royalties.'"
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RIAA Claims Ownership of All Artist Royalties For Internet Radio

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  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:26AM (#18916211) Journal

    When I was young, my Dad told me the RIAA was good because they took care to ensure our music was reproduced with as high fidelity as possible. For example, the RIAA worked with the recording industry to establish techniques and standards for "storing" bass on vinyl by attenuating it, but incorporating offsetting amplification to restore the bass to its correct presence allowing for more music on a single vinyl disk. Thus the RIAA was there to ensure or help ensure the best possible music experience.

    Oh how things seemed to have changed. I don't know if my Dad was correct (I didn't do the research), but regardless, the RIAA certainly seems to be the antithesis to the "old" RIAA. Today the RIAA sounds more and more like organized crime, except that to date, for some reason, every thing they do seems to be deemed legal.

    So, it seems the RIAA has become evil. It's probably time people tried to fulfill their musical quests elsewhere as much as it may be possible. If you still need and want to listen to Janet Jackson, so be it, but:

    Someone on slashdot turned me onto this before, I feel it important others check it out... I've signed up and have been a member of emusic [] for a while now, and now have over 300 non-drm'ed mp3s and love it. And, I don't have to worry about the RIAA, at least I don't think I do. After reading their staked "claims" in the article, I'm not so sure. Regardless, should it actually be so, check emusic out.

    • by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:49AM (#18916373) Homepage
      For example, the RIAA worked with the recording industry to establish techniques and standards for "storing" bass on vinyl by attenuating it, but incorporating offsetting amplification to restore the bass to its correct presence allowing for more music on a single vinyl disk. Thus the RIAA was there to ensure or help ensure the best possible music experience.

      I believe what you're referring to is usually called RIAA equalization [], or the RIAA curve.
      • Re:RIAA Curve (Score:5, Interesting)

        by scalarscience ( 961494 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @05:12AM (#18917231)
        The RIAA was lawyers back then as well. The reason that the phono preamp filter/eq has the name 'RIAA curve' is because they PATENTED it and used it to control who had access to recording technology able to cut vinyl using their patent. There were several successful recording studios in Texas and Louisiana who recorded some well known Jazz artists due to the 'Hollywood effect'. Ie, they were far enough away from the upper East Coast that they were able to avoid the long arm of the RIAA and so artists would go there to get recorded when they couldn't in NYC or surrounding areas.

        Sounds like an apt forerunner of the RIAA we know today...
    • by mrcdeckard ( 810717 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:00AM (#18916433) Homepage

      your father was correct. in fact, as another poster mentioned, the eq curve still bears the name of the organization (RIAA EQ CURVE), and basically describes how vinyl should be "encoded" during mastering, and "decoded" during playback.

      it's an issue with vinyl, because if the cutting head moves too much (from bass frequencies), it can actually cut into the adjacent groove, so you can compensate by turning the head in more each turn, but the storage capacity (length of time) suffers.

      interestingly, how bass energy is dealt with today is super duper limiting -- this can almost be thought of as dynamic eq, but it's not. it takes place in the time domain rather than the frequency, but when a blip of low end energy hits the limiter, it turns it down -- coupled with the make up gain, this effectively turns everything else up.

      this is why modern music SOUNDS LIKE ALL CAPS.

      mr c
      • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) * on Sunday April 29, 2007 @04:07AM (#18917007)
        This must have been from back when the RIAA had actual engineers working for them rather than just MBAs and predatory lawyer-types.
    • by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @03:43AM (#18916921) Homepage
      funny, must be a generation gap thing - when I was young my Dad told me the RIAA ate children my size and used their bones to make soup, and that if I didn't shut my mouth and clean my room that the RIAA would come for me.
    • by Workaphobia ( 931620 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:03AM (#18917629) Journal
      > "Someone on slashdot turned me onto this before, I feel it important others check it out... I've signed up and have been a member of emusic for a while now, and now have over 300 non-drm'ed mp3s and love it. And, I don't have to worry about the RIAA, at least I don't think I do."

      eMusic comes up regularly on Slashdot, and every time it does, I try to mention []. Yes, eMusic has DRM-free music and a decent selection (from what I hear, I never subscribed), but Magnatune has that plus the ideology. While the former got rid of DRM as a business decision in order to enter an under-exploited market, the latter is actually trying to change the face of music in the internet age.

      Magnatune's policies include: No DRM, multiple free formats, medium quality songs distributable for free (the full-length samples are Creative Commons licensed!), choose your own price, 50-50 split between label and artist, and more. Check out the info link for details.

      Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Magnatune, I simply am a very satisfied customer.
    • Real Piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

      Today the RIAA sounds more and more like organized crime,

      Indeed. It occurs to me that actions like those describe in the summary are far more like piracy than anything the RIAA has labeled as piracy. Let's see: many pirates found pinch points in shipping lanes, such as straits, and then carefully watched them for any ships trying to get by. Those ships were then stopped and boarded, and some form of payment extracted. Today, the RIAA has found a pinch point in music distribution, internet radio, and t

  • All your base... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reaktor ( 949798 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:30AM (#18916239)
    does not belong to the RIAA. There are things called contracts which point out who the copyright owner is of a certain intellectual property (music). The RIAA cannot claim that it owns royalties of something it does not own. When we all thought the RIAA could not possibly go any lower...
    • Re:All your base... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by spyowl ( 838397 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:03AM (#18916459)

      There are things called contracts which point out who the copyright owner is of a certain intellectual property (music). The RIAA cannot claim that it owns royalties of something it does not own.

      Doesn't matter. There are laws in many countries that mandate that certain portion of the sale price of a recording device, or a recording medium go to RIAA or their respective equivalent in that country. You could claim all you want that you never recorded or dealt with an RIAA copyrighted content and you never recorded any of it using that device or medium you purchased, but that doesn't exclude you from the RIAA tax - you still have to pay it.

      The same general principle could apply to the Internet radio and given that it has successfully worked for the recording devices/media, there is no guarantee that all of a sudden lawmakers in all countries, including the U.S., will come to their senses and deny the RIAA their "right" to purchase their share of legislation.
      • And please do. I haven't looked at it in legalistic detail, but if the gist of it is:

        I write a couple hundred songs.
        I run a web radio site and broadcast these.
        The U.S. Copyright Office authorizes SoundExchange to collect royalties on my "use" of these songs.
        I therefore owe SoundExchange royalties for the "compulsory license" to broadcast.

        What has occurred somewhere (IMO at the Copyright office) is called "slander of copyright title". As the holder of copyright in these works, *I am the one who authorizes th
        • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @11:20AM (#18918821) Homepage
          I haven't looked at it in legalistic detail

          I believe that.

          I write a couple hundred songs.
          I run a web radio site and broadcast these.
          The U.S. Copyright Office authorizes SoundExchange to collect royalties on my "use" of these songs.
          I therefore owe SoundExchange royalties for the "compulsory license" to broadcast.

          No. The law does not require a copyright holder to pay royalties that are ultimately due to himself. It's not a statutory license to broadcast music over Internet radio at all, it's a statutory license to broadcast music over Internet radio where you otherwise don't have a right to do so (i.e. you're not the copyright holder and you don't have a separately-negotiated license with the copyright holder, and there is a copyright)

          As the holder of copyright in these works, *I am the one who authorizes their licensing, and if another party does so they are breaking the law.

          Except when the law itself includes a license (as is the case here) which you don't get a choice in. You can always offer a different license, but anyone can opt to take the one Congress created. This is because Congress defines what copyright is in the US, and they've defined it to include this license.
    • by Mad Bad Rabbit ( 539142 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:10AM (#18916505)
      According to the SoundExchange FAQ [],
      this only applies if you want to rely on SoundExchange to get you a statutory license.
      So stations willing to negotiate directly with the artists and get nonstatutory licenses,
      wouldn't have to pay SoundExchange royalties. (Although that said, they apparently forbid
      SoundExchange members from granting separate licenses, so this would only work with artists
      who are willing to boycott SoundExchange...)

      (ObDisclaimer: me am not copyright attorney though)

      • by Baricom ( 763970 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @04:28AM (#18917061)
        Based on this post, it should be noted that if you play any music from a SoundExchange member, you are required to pay royalties on a play of a non-member's music, and that non-member cannot claim those royalties without giving up the right to work outside of SoundExchange. Quite a racket the RIAA has there.
    • Back when Napster was going hot & heavy, they were lobbying Congress to pass a Compulsory license law. What this meant was, if passed, Napster could use any song for a set fee without having to negotiate terms with the RIAA or the artists. They did not get that. Now Russia does have a compulsory license law, and that is how claims to be able to put music from any artists up, pay its license fee, and be legal (now the RIAA would say that compulsory license was for radio, not downloads...).

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:32AM (#18916245)

    Part of the whole RIAA con is that they loudly proclaim that they are doing all the crap they do "to defend the little guy, the artist." That's how they moralize what they do. They're just here to help.

    So, exactly HOW does this accomplish that? Are they going to cut paychecks to all the indie artists they're leeching off of?

    I'm betting not.

    • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:53AM (#18916395)
      Yeah, I remember when they started showing their little anti-piracy clips before the movies in the movie theaters in U.S. The "funniest" one was of a set designer that looked like a regualar blue colar worker with a flannel shirt and suede boots (live in a blue color town, so they hoped it would "resonate" with the locals) , sad marimba musing came on and the voice over was saying how the poor set designer needs to put food on the table and pirating takes food away from his family. I started laughing! In my mind I had the more truthful version of it:

      It start by panning around a rich mansion on the coast of the Pacific with 2 pools, a 5 car garage and a yaht on. A very rich family of a CEO of EMI lives there and he is having a conversation with his 15 year old daughter, he sadly tells her that unfortunately she will have to settle with just a Mercedes sports car for her next birthday instead of having a Ferrari, because those evil pirates downloaded movies for free. ... Sad marimba music comes on and the daughter start crying, throws herself on the ground and start having a hysterical fit. The screen fades to black and a marque scroll by with the words "LOOK WHAT THE PIRATES HAVE DONE!". The end.

      Maybe someone would want to make such a clip and put it on Youtube...
  • Illegal. (Score:2, Troll)

    by igotmybfg ( 525391 )
    Sorry, there's no way this could possibly be true. But, if it is, it's definitely illegal, see "theft".
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kierthos ( 225954 )
      Actually, it could be held to be non-binding because of several different factors.

      1) The non-RIAA artist whose royalties are being held by SoundExchange has not entered into a contract with SoundExchange, therefore, SoundExchange does not have the legal right to hold the royalties, or make any pre-existing conditions on the disbursement of said royalties.

      2) The non-RIAA artist can enter into a seperate contract with an Internet Radio station to provide music for whatever rate they desire, whether it is a gr
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by the_womble ( 580291 )
      It is not true. This is Slashdot quoting DailyKos - what sort of standards did you expect?

      1) You do not have to be a member to collect fees through sound exchange, though you do have to pay them an admin fee.

      2) There is nothing to stop radio stations from making direct agreements with copyright holders and by passing Sound Exchange. You only need to use Sound Exchange to make use of the compulsory license.

      The practical problem is that it would be a lot of work for a radio station to contact every copyright
  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rizzo320 ( 911761 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:33AM (#18916251)
    All you can say is wow. This is the power play that everyone was expecting. For several years, SoundExchange was all about "collecting for the artists", so that they get their "fair share". Now that new regulations have been set, the true colors are coming out. As usual, they are in it for themselves- it just took a few years of trickery and disguise. Most of us could see through it, but heck, they tricked enough people to get the current set of legistlation and royalty rates approved.

    The RIAA is alienating listeners, and now alienating artists. These policies will only cause artists and music lovers to seek alternatives- even more so than before. Eventually, SoundExchange will be collecting nothing, because they'll alienate themselves out of business.

    It's not about the artists. It's not about the music. It's all about control. That's all it will ever be to the RIAA/SoundExchange.
    • You assume there are alternatives though. The music industry is much like the PC market, there is one major group (MS/RIAA companies) and then everyone else. The general public don't even know there is an everything else nor the monsters that have control of their markets.
      • by Mongoose ( 8480 )
        I mostly listen to music from Japan and Brazil now. I'm sure the RIAA will try and pull down the radio stations playing mostly non-English / other regional music still -- but only in the US. Many internet radio stations are already considering a move to Canada even when they play such artists due to the law. Will the RIAA 'collect' fees for Cuban and Iranian artists too? I'm sure that'll go over well.
        • They very well might, although Japan at least already has its own RIAA-like organization. I have my share of Japanese music, mostly on CDs that I pick up on my occasional travels there mixed with a bit that I find here, and it's been interesting to see that various forms of copy protection have been on Japanese CDs for quite some time. Certainly longer than here in the US, and without most of the furor. Not that it actually stops me from ripping them to MP3s mind you, but it's there.
  • Keep digging (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shmotlock ( 827592 )
    The worse it gets, the sooner it will end. The RIAA is digging their own grave. Keep it coming.
  • It was a month ago.
  • by AbsoluteXyro ( 1048620 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:33AM (#18916259)
    You have to hand it to the RIAA. That is a brilliant business model. By claiming these royalties and "holding on to them" until the artist pays a fee to receive what is rightfully theirs, the RIAA is essentially getting an interest free loan from every artist that gets net radio play. ON TOP OF THAT, the artists have to PAY the RIAA in order to be compensated for the loan (on which the artists collect no interest)! That my friends, is the best money making scheme I have ever seen. Ever. Just beautiful. From a businessman's point of view, it brings a tear to my eye.
  • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:34AM (#18916267)
    Pay a royalty to collect their fees...

    Hmm, this sounds just like a letter I got the other day

    Hello dear Sir or Madam, This is Mugu Maccaca The III, the son of the late Mugu Maccaca The II, the prime minister of Nigeria. I respectfully request your assistance in transfering a sum of $65,000,000.00 from the bank account of my father who has past away. For your assitance you will get 25% of the total sum. To initiate the transfer we will need your help to pay a $7,345.34 fee to unfreeze my father's money. Please help me as the rebels are coming closer and closer to taking control of my inheritance. Your help will be aboundantly rewarded.

    Thank you and God bless.
    Mugu Maccaca The III, the son of the late Mugu Maccaca the II

  • by xquark ( 649804 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:36AM (#18916285) Homepage
    Now the only question remaining, Is Tony getting his cut?
  • Its madness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:37AM (#18916289)
    There exists a line. A line between everyday villainy and cartoonish supervillainy. The SoundExchange didn't just cross that line, they picked it up and moved it up with them. This is just in the realm of the unbelievable now.
  • Well then (Score:5, Funny)

    by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:37AM (#18916293)
    I cannot sing worth a shit, and I will freely admit that. But I am **SO** tempted to make some recordings of me singing in the shower, and maybe some of my cockatiel doing his calls along with the music, and start up an internet radio station that plays only those tracks. I will then invite SoundExchange to come over and lick the sweat off my balls.
    • by hmccabe ( 465882 )

      IANAL, but I would advise writing your own songs or limit yourself to songs in the public domain.

      I'm sorry I even have to say that, but too many people are too lawsuit happy. That said, some of my finest work is stream of consciousness jazz vocals I belt out while I'm waiting for my conditioner to do its thing.

  • by YouHaveSnail ( 202852 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:37AM (#18916295)
    Even if SoundExchange can somehow make its claim to be able to collect royalties for nonmember artists stick (seems pretty dubious), one would think that they'd run into some serious antitrust issues if they then try to use that power to compel nonmember artists to become members. Essentially, they're claiming a monopoly on royalty collections, and then using that monopoly to reinforce their position. You're not supposed to do that...
    • The only problem with the monopoly aspect of their business is that they are a government sanctioned monopoly, just like Major League Baseball or Amtrack. If you tried to set up an interstate passenger rail service without the express permission of Amtrack, just for an example, you will find out in a real hurry who has been granted the monopoly and you won't find a judge to overturn this law either.

      And the same goes here for the RIAA and "SoundExchange". They are a government granted monopoly. The real trick here is to make the charge of being a "monopoly" stick in the mainstream public media and to demonstrate why this monopoly is such a bad deal, or even how the RIAA is gradually killing off the American music industry. Or how it is already dead. Most average people don't understand this concept, even thought it is obvious by now that the only realistic way for a young singer to break into the top tier of recording artists is through gimicks like "American Idol". If the RIAA didn't have such a stranglehold on the American music industry, you would find this TV show to be a total flop, as much better performers would already be performing the top songs. IMHO, "American Idol" is a symptom of how bad the music industry has become, and not a genuine showcase of talent.

      Mind you, I like some of the performers that have come through that contest (Ruben Stoddard is one of my favorites), but it is unfortunate that this was the only avenue he had to be noticed. The days of the "garage band" being able to make it to the big leagues through hard work and determination are long over, except for those who have some exceptional luck. People with genuine talent are being ignored and not allowed to propser.
    • The anti-trust laws are just acts of Congress. This is a later act of Congress, and implicitly supercedes any contrary provisions of the anti-trust acts.

      If you want to get rid of this, you need a Constitutional challenge. Unfortunately, the damned Supreme Court has allowed the Commerce clause to be so horribly over-extended there may not be any room left to assert a right to netcast one's own music.
    • by grahammm ( 9083 ) *
      According to the article, Soundexchange claim that the the US Copyright Office ruling regarding webcasting designated SoundExchange to collect and distribute to all nonmembers as well as its members. If this is correct, then they should be distributing the royalties to non-members without requiring them to become members. More than that, they should be pro-active in identifying and paying the appropriate copyright owners rather than waiting for the copyright owners to contact them and claim the royalties.
  • Illegal organization (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tsa ( 15680 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:38AM (#18916307) Homepage
    OK, that's it. The RIAA can be seen as a criminal organization and should be made illegal. They do more harm than the Hells Angels, and the Hells Angels are banned in many countries, so why not the RIAA?
  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:40AM (#18916323) Homepage
    As far as I know, this is no different [] from other performance rights organizations like ASCAP/BMI/etc. right? They collect money for everyone, whether the artist is registered with them or not. The only question is whether we need yet another performance rights organization...
    • From your link:

      I do not understand why Indie artists even join these organizations

      ASCAP and BMI do not collect money from artists. They collect the money from venues, films, television, etc., which allows the artist's songs to be perfomed/played there.

      I used to work at a bar (The Library, near OSU campus), and on occasion we would have local bands play. They were allowed to play *only* their music, with absolutely no cover songs allowed. They could do it because it was *their* music, and, ultimately, they were in control of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by c41rn ( 880778 )
      ASCAP and BMI only collect fees for the artists (technically, writers) that they represent. For example, if I own a radio station, I could choose to only pay licensing fees to ASCAP as long as I only play songs that are written by artists who are represented by ASCAP and if I make damn sure I never play any songs that are written by artists covered by BMI or SESAC. Since most stations/venues don't want to have to be so careful about each and every song they play, most opt to just pay the licensing fees for
    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      As far as I know, this is no different [] from other performance rights organizations like ASCAP/BMI/etc. right? They collect money for everyone, whether the artist is registered with them or not. The only question is whether we need yet another performance rights organization...

      Being unable to air your songs for free on radio unless you pay someone (not the author), that's insane, there's gotta be a loophole somewhere about what constitutes a "performance" that can be charged.

      For example dealing
  • Thus far we only have SoundExchange's word for this. They may be twisting things the way they want them to be. I'd like to see some lawyers (who do not work for the RIAA) views on this.

    If it is true, it is actually a positive development. It is so outrageous, and so destroys the RIAA's claim to be helping starving artists, that I suspect it will ultimately weaken the RIAA's grip.

  • by corvair2k1 ( 658439 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:47AM (#18916363)
    The article is overly inflammatory, adding emphasis to quotations (which the author/editor doesn't claim) to the word "compulsory" in "compulsory license". Obviously, they didn't do much research into what the compulsory license is in relation to copyright law.

    The compulsory license is largely a way of ensuring that, if a content distributor wishes, it can use certain types of copyrighted works in certain ways. An example includes making a cover of a copyrighted song. Usually, royalties are paid to the songwriter in such cases, and you can work out favorable terms to both parties. However, if the parties don't come to agreement, the content distributor can instead agree to the compulsory license and agree to pay said artist based on the published rates. As long as this happens, the original copyright holder cannot sue (because he/she is getting paid as dictated by copyright law).

    In short, this means that you can indeed make a license directly between you and the copyright holder itself. However, if you're going to use the compulsory license, there is a procedure that has to be in place aside from mailing an unexpected check to the copyright holder... There's no proof you paid!

    So, it's a bit different than the article's author paints it. Of course, most wouldn't agree that the copyright holder should be a member of SoundScan in order to get their royalties, but it's an entirely different issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hxnwix ( 652290 )
      From the article: "SoundExchange will collect Internet radio royalties for your song even if you don't want them to do so"

      Are you saying that this isn't that case?
      • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:47AM (#18916671) Homepage
        He's saying that it is sometimes the case.

        Basically, the Internet radio station has two licenses it can choose from. It can make a license with the copyright holder directly, for whatever terms they can agree on. Or it can ignore the copyright holder and use the statutory license procedures, which require sending the money to SoundExchange, which will disburse an appropriate amount to the copyright holder if the copyright holder goes through the procedure it has to to get it.

        So radio stations can avoid doing business with SoundExchange, but copyright holders shouldn't, since they don't have control over whether radio stations will use the statutory license. Many will since it's easier than negotiating with each individual copyright holder, however.
    • Mod parent up. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:27AM (#18916579) Homepage

      Mod parent up. The original article reflects a complete misunderstanding of the compulsory license system. It's compulsory against owners of rights in sound recordings. They have to grant a license whether they want to or not. However, there's nothing prohibiting owners of sound recordings and a distribution service of whatever type from making a deal outside the compulsory license system.

      For example, someone could set up a Free Music Foundation to offer free licenses to Internet radio stations, unknown bands could grant distribution rights for their stuff to the Free Music Foundation, and Internet "radio stations" (really streaming download sites) could play exclusively Free Music Foundation material, without any compulsory license or statutory royalties.

      Or, at the other extreme, you could have Payola Internet Radio, where bands pay to put their stuff on the stream. Again, no statutory royalties.

      This isn't a big issue in the industry. The big issue with compulsory licenses right now is whether they apply to ringtones. The Copyright Board said they do [] last year, which makes ringtones much cheaper. The Harry Fox Agency [] is dragging their feet on this, but it's now established that if you download an entire song and use it as a ringtone, that's covered under the compulsory license. Arguments continue about using only part of the song.

  • internet radio (Score:2, Interesting)

    So rather than focusing on these criminals I thought we should have a pro-online music thread in the comments.

    What Internet radio stations do you listen to and why?
    What online artists doo you purchase songs from online?
    What online artists do you enjoy listening to who release their work free?
  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @01:51AM (#18916381)
    There's very little to distinguish "internet radio" from "downloadable music", because the former can take the form of a streamed mp3 and the latter can take all sorts of forms. That doesn't keep legislation from treating the two very differently.

    As I understand it (IANAL), the whole purpose behind these royalty bodies and standard licensing fees is that it allows radio stations to play music without figuring out and paying each artist/label individually. Basically, it just allows radio stations to exist without the bureaucratic nightmare that would be arranging licensing for the music it wants to play.

    That said, this FAQ may provide the workaround that the summary thinks is missing:

    If I join SoundExchange can I still negotiate a license with a webcaster if I want to?

      Yes. Although membership in SoundExchange prohibits you from licensing your sound recording copyrights to another royalty collective for purposes of collecting and distributing Sections 112 and 114 statutory royalties on your behalf, your membership in SoundExchange does not in any way limit your ability to enter into direct (i.e., nonstatutory) licenses of any sound recordings that you own, whether with webcasters or other potential statutory licensees. SoundExchange simply requires that SRCOs notify it of any direct licenses entered into with statutory licensees or digital music service providers so that it can ensure that payments received from services that hold direct licenses to certain recordings are calculated correctly and allocated properly.

    so you can't say "the royalties I'm due from this legislation about internet radio should go to this other company, not SoundExchange". If I'm reading this right (and it is getting late...), you can grant a webcaster a license outside of the system. I highly doubt that the law regarding internet radio/radio in general prohibits the artist from granting royalty-free use of their music.

    The relevant portion of the law [] may also explicitly contain the ability to license your work under other terms. I think (C) part (vii) may be it, but I'm not inclined to dig through the language at the moment. That part reads:

    (vii) phonorecords of the sound recording have been distributed to the public under the authority of the copyright owner or the copyright owner authorizes the transmitting entity to transmit the sound recording, and the transmitting entity makes the transmission from a phonorecord lawfully made under the authority of the copyright owner, except that the requirement of this clause shall not apply to a retransmission of a broadcast transmission by a transmitting entity that does not have the right or ability to control the programming of the broadcast transmission, unless the transmitting entity is given notice in writing by the copyright owner of the sound recording that the broadcast station makes broadcast transmissions that regularly violate such requirement;

    but the context of this clause isn't clear to me.

    • by topham ( 32406 )

      A non-member of SoundExchange would still have the right to assign collection to another agency; nor does it prevent an artist from collecting nothing if they were to sign individual or collective agreements to do so.

      The summary is misleading and disingenuous ; in spite of the fact the RIAA deserves no sympathy.
    • Internet radio is so special for two main reasons:

      I. They got the fact wrong that since Internet radio is digital it means that it reproduces exact copies of the originals and thus it is threatening. That is the argument they probably presented in court to stupid lawmaker in Washington who would use thier optical drive tray as a cupholder. You see, back in the day they presented the same argument for the overpricing digital tapes and limiting their addoption. It wasn't that the tapes were expensive it was

  • Just get the streamers to move their system out of the states. Look, I listen to a few 80's music, such as nigel. Is it important that they have a LIVE streaming radio? Nope. In fact, they could do a show, and then forward the stream to a box outside of America to stream the music. The one key issue on this, is that the stream format may have to be changed. Something that will allow for the ID of the music to eb sent and then incorporated (think html for a music stream instead of images). Not hard to do.

  • But you can most certainly not compel them to license a damn thing under your conditions. What if this were extended so that other 'industry representing' groups held similar privileges?

    Imagine for a moment that a Book Industry Association of America spontaneously acquired control of ALL ebook licensing conditions AND made themselves a middleman AND also by the way would just keep the money unless you knew to requisition it from them. Also, why shouldn't the BSA hold compulsory licenses to all open source
  • by UObean ( 1094769 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:03AM (#18916453) collects royalties of all the music they sell and offer it to the RIAA. They cry and moan and refuse the money because they don't like their business model. Now suddenly its completely ok to collect royalties for someone else when you don't have the copyright for the work, but only so far as the RIAA is the one doing the collecting.
  • Now that RIAA is keeping a good record of all the music being played (one would assume) and raking in the bux and having the government enforce *cough* artists rights *cough* I figure the next step is the government will start taxing the RIAA revenues and require some sort of accounting of their collections/distribution to make sure everything is legit.

    Sonner or later all these dumb regulations will be needed to be funded by related taxes of some sort.
  • I am curious as to how the RIAA has not been investigated for Racketeering and outright fraud? Why is nobody in the government investigating the RIAA?
  • Didn't the mob used to collect protection money whether you wanted their protection or not? It's like Bush declaring he's going to protect all the oil revenues so everyone has to pay his government then he'll "fairly" distribute the money.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:25AM (#18916561) Journal
    The RIAA is trying to push around the only people that can really push back at them... artists!

    What I mean is this, if the RIAA continues to piss people off, record companies will not get contracts, the RIAA member companies will then not support the RIAA, the recording industry as we know it crumbles...

    How is that possible. Someone some where will start their own record company, providing on the parts that the artists need help with. That somebody can arbitrate royalties with public broadcasters in direct competition with the RIAA. The RIAA is not a government mandated body. They CAN be replaced. It will start with one or two bands, then more, then one or two record companies, then more...

    What we need to do is start writing letters and emails to bands themselves. Explain that they will not get more money from you if they continue to work with companies that support or belong to the RIAA. Choke off the money stream and the RIAA dies.
  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:26AM (#18916573) Homepage
    I write music. It's not especially amazing stuff, but it's written and some of it is recorded and put out for free. If a net radio station fancies playing a track, then that's fine by me (though I refuse responsibility for their sudden drop in listenership...).

    If this completely alien organisation tries making one unit of whatever currency they're charging in, I will go beserk. This is my music, nothing to do with them, and with no contract in place between us I shall offer it as I damned well choose. They have no right to claim ownership of any revenue whatsoever arising from this music.

  • Just so we're clear (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @02:34AM (#18916607) Homepage
    This is from the FAQ:

    What licenses does SoundExchange administer?

    The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 (DPRA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) granted a performance right in sound recordings for certain digital and satellite transmissions. In exchange for this new right, SRCOs are subject to a compulsory license for the use of their music, provided the user complies with those conditions set forth in the copyright law. SoundExchange was established to administer the collection and distribution of royalties from such compulsory licenses taken by noninteractive streaming services that use satellite, cable or Internet methods of distribution.

    For those of you who are caught up in the language, let me make it crystal clear for you: There is a license which artists must grant under law, a compulsory license, which allows certain digital performances. If you record a song, anyone may use it under the terms of that license.

    As with the GPL, anyone may accept. Anyone may decline. If you decline, you have no rights to perform the song under the license. You may still acquire an alternate license directly from the copyright owner and do anything the owner authorizes, including perform the song in a manner similar to what is allowed by the compulsory license.

    You owe fees to SoundExchange only if you accept the compulsory license and perform the song under those terms and conditions.

    Now, SoundExchange doesn't want you to know this. They have very carefully crafted the language in their documentation to lead you to the impression that paying them is the only option. Nevertheless, if you read carefully you'll find that's not what they actually said. And if you read the relevant sections of the DPRA and DMCA, you'll find that's not what the law says either.
    • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @04:39PM (#18920931) Homepage Journal
      There is a license which artists must grant under law, a compulsory license, ... As with the GPL, anyone may accept. Anyone may decline. If you decline, you have no rights to perform the song ...

      This makes no sense to me at all. First you say that I must grant this compulsory license. Then you turn around and say I may decline the license. I can't find a way to read this that isn't self-contradictory. Do I have to grant the license, or can I decline (to grant) it?

      And if I decide to decline it, what's the mechanism? Presumably I must do something that will notify all possible broadcasters and other "performers" (DJs?) that my recording can't be "performed". But I don't know any practical way to do such a thing. There's not even any way that I know to discover even a small percent of the people who might want to use my recording.

      It's all totally unclear and contradictory ...

  • 1. Put microphone in toilet
    2. Fart as loud as you can
    3. Set up an internet radio station
    4. Put on your recording you just did
    5. Let RIAA Sue you
    6. Become Famous
    7. $$Profit!
    8. Sue RIAA for frivilous lawsuit
    9. $$Profit!
    10. Go on lecture circuit
    11. $$Profit!
  • As a broadcaster (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rantingkitten ( 938138 ) <kitten@ m i r r o r s h a d> on Sunday April 29, 2007 @03:29AM (#18916881) Homepage
    I run a synthpop and darkwave radio station [] myself (plug!), and I have had people tell me they've never heard this or that artist before, and then go check out their albums. One even went to the VNV Nation concert here in Atlanta after hearing them on my station. What's that mean for VNV Nation? Money in their pockets. And that's just the ticket sale; who knows what merchandise the guy bought while there.

    I've also had artists send me promo tracks, full albums, and other stuff -- mostly indie artists looking for some exposure. If they're good (and they usually are) I put them in rotation, so dozens of people get to hear someone they've never heard. I don't solicit; they send me this stuff because they want me to play it. As one recent artist, James Stark [], told me, after he sent me some tracks for consideration and I enjoyed them enough to put them in rotation:

    Thanks I appreciate the exposure, it's hard to get the music out as an
    independent artist which is why I'm trying to get radioplay. The CD is
    the mail.

    Just a guy trying to get his music noticed. And he's not alone -- this happens quite a bit, and I broadcast a niche genre. I bet broadcasters in more "mainstream" genres get even more artists than I do.

    The artists love it -- they get free exposure to an audience primed to the genre, and whatever album sales, merchandise, mp3 downloads, and the rest that comes with it. The listeners love it. No one is losing and everyone is gaining -- except the labels and the RIAA who, in this day and age, are totally unnecessary anyway.

    Some of the artists that send me stuff are easily good enough to get signed, and I know some have been approached, but they steadfastly refuse. They'd rather remain independant of money-grubbing middlemen and idiotic contracts, and get their music to the fans with channels of distribution their target audience is likely to use.

    I started this venture after years and years of listening to net radio on live365 and other assorted places. And I bought music after listening. I know the system works.

    Frankly, there ain't no Benjamens in the net radio trade. We broadcasters do this for the love of the music and because it's fun. Don't penalize us for bringing the art to the people. Don't penalize us, the artists, or the audience.
  • As the RIAA's new internet racketeering gang took over, the song Fuck the MP^h^hRIAA [] inexplicably cornered 100% of the streaming audio market in a single day. We will keep you up to date on this unprecedented development as more becomes available.
  • There is a small coffee shop in my town that used to have live music Friday and Saturday nights. NONE of the artists that played there were RIAA-affiliated. (All were very small local bands, none of which had record deals, all were self-produced.)

    SoundExchange shut down the live music. Somehow, that neither I, nor the owner of the coffee shop were able to determine, SoundExchange actually does control the playback of all music in the U.S.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll