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Small Webcasters Sue RIAA 315

Posted by michael
from the even-writing-to-speakeasy's-ceo-gets-no-results dept.
killthiskid writes "The Webcaster Alliance, a small group of 198 webcasters has sued the RIAA. CNET has the news, along with a growing number of other sites (google news). As many /.'ers know, in 2002 the Library of Congress decided on .07 cents per song (retroactive to '98). After that another bill was passed to protect smaller webcasters. Aparently, many webcasters are still not happy." Their complaint is online.
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Small Webcasters Sue RIAA

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  • by Angry White Guy (521337) <CaptainBurly[AT]goodbadmovies.com> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @11:53AM (#6814815)
    Keep the conglomerates and lawyers tied up forever. The rest of us can be free and happy.
    • Keep the conglomerates and lawyers tied up forever. The rest of us can be free and happy.
      Unfortunately the rest of us are financially supporting the conglomerates and lawyers in their litigation (at least indirectly). So who is the free man and who is the slave?

    • The rest of us can be free and happy.

      So, what will you do when free and happy have both been made illegal through new legislation and your life is destroyed by exploitation of loopholes by lawyers while you were looking the other direction?
    • Yes...we need to protect multinational megaloconglomerate zaibatsu against the hordes of tiny individuals and their attempts at free market commerce.
      I mean, if we were to allow such microbusinesses to continue, taking business away from the megalocorporations, we might become...free market capitolists or democratically free individuals...
      and we know we don't want that...
  • No Chance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KrispyKringle (672903) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @11:54AM (#6814827)
    According to this article [atnewyork.com], the group is actually closer to 400 members, but I'm inclined to trust CNet. Regardless, most are apparently one-man operations and the like; their chances of winning--let alone having the courts "block the major record labels from enforcing their otherwise legitimate intellectual property rights in sound recordings until the alleged violations are remedied" (according to the above atnewyork article)--are, I'd say, slim to none.
    • You know with 400 people available do you think one of them might have run spellcheck?

      "35. RIAA's members create or distribute 90% of all non-pirated sound recordings which are produced and sold in the United States. The Major Lables tend to focus on hits in broad-based genres such as Country or Pop ("Mainstream Content")."

      Lables? If I were a judge I would be sooo impressed :)
    • Kind of like a lot of sheep charging at a very big wolf
    • Maybe but that's exactly the way to hose organizations like the RIAA: Just think what would happen if everybody who owns a cd/dvd burner would put $5 in a fund to pay a bunch of lawyers to make the RIAA short existance thereafter as miserable, humiliating and painful as possible?

  • by Sphere1952 (231666) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @11:55AM (#6814836) Journal
    how do you determine when you are listening to somone's intellectual property and when you are listening to someone's free speech?
    • by Lxy (80823) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:02PM (#6814921) Journal
      Wait for the RIAA to mandate DRM for your brain. Then the confusion will be cleared up.
    • by Frymaster (171343) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:04PM (#6814944) Homepage Journal
      how do you determine when you are listening to somone's intellectual property and when you are listening to someone's free speech?

      that free speech is free as in, uh, speech... not free as in beer. you can speak freely and charge for it. there is no mutual exclusivity. that'll be two dollars, please.

    • It's the broadcaster's/webcaster's responsibility to determine this, not the listener's.
      • "...broadcaster's/webcaster's responsibility..."

        Alright, but if I'm a small webcaster trying to promote free speech the entire burden is upon me and the people who want to be freely heard -- not upon those who want un-free speech. Since free speech generally doesn't have any money, Free speech is being priced out of the market in favor of people who can pay to do the copyright searches.
        • This pertains to domestically copyrighted sound recordings. Your "who want to be freely heard" presumably own the copyright to their speech and can thus distribute it in any manner they desire. The RIAA only cares about stuff for which they own the copyright.
    • The Answer (Score:3, Informative)

      by cybercuzco (100904)
      You ask faceotously, but theres a real answer to this. Its "free" speech if its not written down beforehand, i.e its not IP if its extemporaneous. For this reason, Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech results in no royalties for the king family because king did not write it down beforehand, he spoke from the heart. So, if its written down, youre listening to IP, if its not youre listening to free speech.
  • by FesterDaFelcher (651853) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @11:55AM (#6814837)
    alleging that the trade association tried to push independent music stations offline. The way the law is currently, you have to pay if you are going to make music publically available. Now this law is insanely out of touch with the way people use media right now, and it needs to be changed, but unfortunately, the evil RIAA was just doing what it was supposed to do. It sucks, but its true.
    • [IANA...well, whetever is relevant - lawyer, historian, whatever.]

      Actually, it started out the other way around... Originally, the labels didn't want radio stations to play their songs, b/c they wanted to sell albums instead, and they thought it was a bad idea for the songs to be heard "for free". (Sound familiar, anyone?) Eventually the stations took the labels to court and got what is called "mandatory licensing" - meaning that the labels *must* allow the stations to play their music for a set price.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mephie (582671) * on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:00PM (#6814891) Homepage
    Congress passed new copyright rules in 1998 that created a new royalty structure, unknown in traditional radio, under which Internet radio stations would pay record labels and artists a fee for playing their music online. Lawmakers didn't specify how much this fee would be, kicking off years of battles.

    Now that's quality legislation.

    • You think you have it bad?

      In Holland, you pay a fee to some music copyright management organisation for playing music on-line or on the radio... even your own music!.

      You write a song, record it in your basement, and play it on-line. Yes, you are now breaking the law, until you pay royalties on your own work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:00PM (#6814895)

    COMPLAINT

    Perry J. Narancic, SBN 206820 LEXANALYTICA, P. C.
    160 West Santa Clara Street Suite 1100
    San Jose, CA 95113 Tel: 650-814-7688
    Fax: 650-618-2700
    Attorneys for Plaintiff WEBCASTER ALLIANCE, INC.

    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

    Webcaster Alliance, Inc.
    Plaintiff,
    v.
    Recording Industry Association of America, Inc., Universal Music Group, Inc., Warner Music Group,
    Inc., Bertelsmann Music Group, Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., Capitol-EMI Music, Inc.

    Defendants.

    ) )
    ) )
    ) )
    ) )
    ) )

    Case No.:
    COMPLAINT
    (1) Unlawful restraint of trade in the market for domestically copyrighted
    sound recordings (Sherman Act &#167; 1)
    (2) Illegal maintenance of monopoly in the market for domestically copyrighted
    sound recordings (Sherman Act &#167; 2)
    Demand for Jury Trial

    Plaintiff alleges as follows:
    I. NATURE OF PROCEEDINGS
    1. This is an action brought under the antitrust laws of the United States to restrain

    anticompetitive conduct by the Defendants which threatens to injure Plaintiff and its members as
    a result of Defendants' exclusionary conduct in the markets for domestically copyrighted sound
    recordings and Internet distribution of such sound recordings.
    2. Plaintiff is a trade association whose members are engaged in the business of
    Internet radio, also known as webcasting. Webcasting is the Internet equivalent of terrestrial radio 1&#12;

    2 COMPLAINT

    whereby digital data is transmitted in real-time, without downloading any physical files. But
    unlike the broadcasting of signals in traditional radio, Internet radio involves the transmission of
    streams of data to an individual listener.
    3. Internet radio is a vital form of media that allows ordinary individuals to transmit
    ideas, music, opinions and other content to an international audience. Like traditional terrestrial
    radio, Internet radio is an important medium that allows for the free expression of ideas, news and
    opinion. However, the commercial success of Internet radio as a viable line of commerce is
    dependent on securing access to suitable content, which is subject to the intellectual property
    rights of its owners.
    4. To allow for the growth of this medium, Congress enacted the Digital Millennium
    Copyright Act of 1998 (" DMCA") to provide certain non-subscription Internet radio stations
    with a compulsory license to perform copyrighted sound recordings. Under the DMCA, the
    royalty rates for such compulsory licenses can be established by either a voluntary agreement, or
    failing such voluntary agreement, the Copyright Office may initiate a Copyright Arbitration
    Royalty Panel (" CARP") in order to establish such rates.
    5. A CARP proceeding commenced in April 2001 to establish royalty rates for Internet
    radio for the period October 28, 1998 - December 31, 2002 (the "CARP")
    6. The Recording Industry Association of America, Inc (" RIAA"), a trade association
    controlled by the five major labels who account for over 80% of all domestically copyrighted
    content produced and distributed in the United States (the "Major Labels"), acted as a negotiating
    agent on behalf of its members in the CARP proceedings.
    7. The CARP submitted its report to the Librarian of Congress on February 20, 2002,
    which report included certain recommendations as the appropriate webcasting royalty rates. (the
    "CARP Rates").
    8. However the Librarian of Congress rejected, in part, the CARP report, and the
    Librarian of Congress set the rates in a final order that was announced on June 20, 2002, and
    which was published on July 8, 2002 (the "LOC Rates") 2&#12;

    3 COMPLAINT

    9. The LOC Rates were primarily based on the royalty rates that were agreed to in a
    licensing agreement between Yahoo, Inc., the second largest commercial webcaster in the world,
    and RIAA (the "Yahoo Agreement"). In his July 2002 f
  • Internet radio stations make money!?! Seriously though, if you make money off other people's stuff, you should pay them money. A percentage of these tiny station's meagre profits have to be a pittance, to be paid in twenty installments of one-twentyith of a pittance.
    • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:33PM (#6815235) Homepage Journal
      The problem is that unlike normal broadcast radio, where the radio station pays per performance, with internet radio, RIAA sees that there's one stream to each user, and wants payment per performance PER USER.
      With 50,000 people listening to the same MusicMatch radio song, that's suddenly a LOT of money.

      To make it even worse, what happens when a user doesn't like a song and switches channels? Pay twice! A radio station doesn't have to pay extra if a user skips to a different channel. But for internet radio, there's a payment for the song you listened to before, and the one you're listening to now.

      What's apparent here is GREED -- RIAA isn't content with getting a similar amount as they do from broadcast radio stations, but want additional levy "because they can". The justice system in this country, headed by the Senate and Congress, is more corrupt than any banana republic official, and will gladly give big business whatever they want, as long as they get their support in return.
      Don't expect any fairness here. The only concern is how much can small businesses be bled without dying.

      Regards,
      --
      *Art
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:01PM (#6814903)
    but .07 cents doesn't seem that high. thats not 7 cents, its $.0007.

    one month is 720 hours, times 60 minutes, divided by 4 minutes/song, is about 10,000 songs a month. multiply this through, and thats about $7 a month to operate an internet radio station.

    surely without multicast, the bandwith alone costs much more than this?
  • by Rahga (13479) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:01PM (#6814905) Homepage Journal
    I didn't read the articles either, but this had to be cleared up for those who don't know the situation....

    The RIAA, as an organization, managed to move themselves into a position where they are the sole entity authorized to collect and distribute the performance fees for music streaming. I am not aware of any group or comitee that oversees the RIAA in this activity, and being well aware of the unethical-when-they-can-get-away-with-it actions of their members, I think that it would not surprise anyone if the RIAA decided that smaller non-member music companies and performers were completely ignored when it comes time to pay out the fees RIAA colected on their behalf.
    • That's the gist of it, though you shouldn't encourage not-reading the articles.

      The thing I don't understand, though, is why the RIAA necessarily feels its a good thing to form the webcasting industry into a more professional, tightly-knit one. Wouldn't they benefit from a stronger bargaining position when dealing with small independent webcasters who have little leverage and are a dime a dozen?

      The only thing I can think of immediately is that the RIAA feels those small guys don't bother always to pay r

  • Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JayBlalock (635935) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:03PM (#6814927)
    The way I see it, this issue is simple. There is no reason at all that webcasters should be forced to pay more to play songs than broadcast radio. We all know how much radio pays the RIAA. (hint: less than nothing) But that's because the industry can control the radio biz through payola. Webcasters are distributed and beyond control, and THAT'S why the RIAA's trying to force them to pay massive fines which radio doesn't. The only reason this is even an issue is the insistance of our government that anything Online has to be treated like it's a completely different entity than its offline counterpart. There's otherwise no excuse to make the webcasters pay, while simultaneously paying OUT to radio stations. It IS monopolistic behavior, and very possibly illegal - as hopefully the courts will decide.
    • Re:Good for them (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rahga (13479) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:10PM (#6815012) Homepage Journal
      Ever hear of ASCAP and BMI, or SESAC? You are right, radio doesn't have to pay the RIAA... instead they get to pay those other performance rights organizations, and trust me, they do get paid. The songwriters for everything from "Louie Louie" to "Baby Got Back" are going to continue to get royalties paid to them for quite some time....

      The only difference in web streaming is that the RIAA moved themselves into a positions where webcasters must answer to the RIAA... ASCAP and others do have online licesnsing and so on, but that's not the same thing that RIAA got in on.
      • Re:Good for them (Score:4, Informative)

        by thumbtack (445103) <thumbtack@ju n o . com> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:33PM (#6815242)
        Webcasters pay for performance royalties, terrestial radio doesn't.

        Webcasters have to pay the performance royalty based on the number of listeners, Terrestial radio doesn't pay performance royalites, period.

        Both have to have ASCAP, BMI, SESAC licensing.

        As an example when you hear Britneys Pears on the radio while driving, the songwriter gets paid (about 8.5 cents as I recall) no matter how many listeners are tuned in. When Britneys Pears is played on a webcaster, the song writer still gets theirs, but in addition Britney and her label get a royalty based on the number of listeners..Hence if you can afford the equipment, its cheaper to broadcast rather than webcast. (at least licensing wise)
      • Ok, but there is the theoretical way the system works, and the REALITY of how the system works. And while broadcast stations may technically be paying fees, in reality they aren't - they're more than made up for by what's being paid to them. Which is part of the reason that this is an anti-trust issue - the various recording groups have tilted the scales so far in favor of broadcast radio that, should the webcasting fees ever become cemented, it will destroy the industry completely.
  • Too much money.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:06PM (#6814957) Homepage Journal
    While 7% of revenue or 10% of expenses (whichever is greater) for the last 4 years on a shoestring budget would put alot of small mom/pop/kid radio stations out of business.

    Funny how Record industries will pay to get thier music played on FM Radio, but on the net, they will just start their own partially owned net Radio stations and crunch the little guys.

    So, wheres the good free (non-riaa) Indie radio stations? With all the talk of "F*CK" the RIAA, wheres the alternative Garage/Indie/etc radio? I listen to Techno, and the best streams are UK Based. Wheres the alternatives?
    • I agree, where are they...I dont know. Many of my favorites went down when the fees started...I hate the RIAA. I will continue to pirate my music because we are at a complete impass. I refuse to work with them, and they refuse to work with me.
    • by pulse2600 (625694)
      So, wheres the good free (non-riaa) Indie radio stations? With all the talk of "F*CK" the RIAA, wheres the alternative Garage/Indie/etc radio? I listen to Techno, and the best streams are UK Based. Wheres the alternatives?


      You just made a very good point...there aren't any "good alternatives". Even the unknown musicians I listen to are signed to big labels like Sony and Atlantic. You know why most "good" artists don't sign with independent labels or get played on independent radio stations? Because indie
      • art and business arent mutually exclusive. A band like RATM makes a shitload of money...but...it is a huge vehicle to get their message across. A message that wouldnt reach the masses if they were indie.

        Is it pure art? no. The music biz is about entertainment...but you can take pride and put your blood sweat and tears into your work. Getting paid to do something doesnt negate the intrinsic value of what you created.

        If I offer Michaelangelo 500 bucks to paint the cieling of my apartment...does it cease to
      • Well, that's the promise anyway. And I suppose that you won't really get rich any other way. But you just aren't counting what happens to all those that the particular label the sign with decides to...ignore is too kind a word.

        Most musicians are better of as independants, even from a commercial sense. Just like most people are better off not playing the lottery. But you only hear about those who win. So when do you think that buying lottery tickets is a good investment?

    • "I listen to Techno, and the best streams are UK Based. Wheres the alternatives?"

      There will be no good answer to this question because nobody listens to Techno. :)
  • by Channard (693317) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:07PM (#6814971) Journal
    I mean, sorry to be un-idealistic here, but web-broadcasters thinking they could play commercial music without paying for it was naive at best. Let's face it, we're living in a capitalist society here and the free and easy image of the internet was never going to last .

    If said web broadcasters really do object, the best way to hurt the RIAA is by not using their music.-There are plenty of bands out their on the web whose music could likely be picked up relatively cheaply, and denying the RIAA future profits.

    • ... is that web broadcasting functions like traditional broadcasting. Playing a song owned by the RIAA is advertising the RIAA's product. Although I agree with you, that ideally bypassing the RIAA would be the solution. A nice free market solution. Now if we were only monopoly free...
      • by Adolatra (557735) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:29PM (#6815206) Homepage
        bypassing the RIAA would be the solution.

        Actually, it wouldn't.

        The RIAA's subsidiary, SoundExchange [soundexchange.com], is currently the sole designated agent for collection distribution royalties, as per the U.S. Copyright Office.

        What this means is that SoundExchange, a.k.a. the RIAA, is authorized to collect on behalf of all copyright holders. Even those who aren't members of the RIAA proper.

        To put it another way, even if I were to start a band, and a Shoutcast station devoted solely to my band, or to local unsigned bands throughout my city, the RIAA (as SoundExchange) could knock on my door and demand royalties! And since none of us are members of the RIAA, we wouldn't see a red cent!

        This is just a taste of the asinine legislation currently binding webcasters thanks to the RIAA's powerful lobbying power.

        • royalties

          People should call a tax a tax. It's like those FCC "fees" on my phone bill. If a fee/royalty/charge/payment/whatever came into existance due to legislation, then it no less than a tax (and no less evil).
    • The problem is independant webcasters threaten the music industry's control over music. Right now, the industry mostly controls what gets played on radio and what doesn't through their whole payola setup.

      With Radio there are huge barriers to entry. With netcasters there isn't, so you can see a proliferation of independant-minded netcasters who play what they want, and aren't necessarily interested in taking money from so-called "indies", in exchange for getting certain songs played.

      So the industry can't
  • $200 a year? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jonny Royale (62364) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:09PM (#6814998) Homepage Journal
    If I'm reading this right..the webcasters have to PAY ~200 US a year (3 min song avg.) to the recording industry to play their music?

    So why aren't radio stations paying this? They use RIAA "protected" material all the time. Is there a diference between broadcasting on the 'net & broadcasting over the radio (from a legal standpoint, that is)? I can get input from a radio station wired into my PC & record it...does that mean I'm pirating music? Or the fact that I bypassed all the storage media to get that music the real issue here?

    *begin sarcasm* Or is that "lisence fee" covered in the payola they get from the music industry to push the latest "pop-phenom"..??*end sarcasm* sarcasm
    • Re:$200 a year? (Score:2, Informative)

      by GarthSweet (514087)
      Try a calculator my friend:

      24 hrs/day
      x 60 min/hr
      / 3 min/song
      x 365 days/year
      x 0.07 cents/song
      ==========
      = $12,264.00

      That's not even figuring on the fact that it's 7 cents for every time a song is played per user.
  • Rights???? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joelwest (38708) * <<joel> <at> <joelwest.com>> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:10PM (#6815004) Homepage
    I would like to propose that the idea of having the 'RIGHT' to own something or to do something is also mitigated by the responsibility one is willing to take, not only to protect that right, but also in general. I do know that the idea of the U.S. Constitution is based on the idea that human beings have inalienable rights and that these rights need protection.

    Let's continue: The right to own a creative work is then mitigated by the ability by the right of someone else to enjoy that creativity; if I am creative in isolation it is called masturbation. So if I want an audience I need to allow them to enjoy my work. What are the responsibilities of the audience versus the composer versus the pimp errrrr agent...

    Thats the question. Not rights...responsibilities.
    • if I am creative in isolation it is called masturbation. So if I want an audience I need to allow them to enjoy my work.

      EEEEEEEEEEEEEW!!!!!

      And I think that might be illegal!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:14PM (#6815053)
    I am not a lawyer...
    That being said, the complaint as written is based on the Sherman anti-trust act, and in my opinion holds some water. The RIAA does control the vast majority of sound recordings in the US. They are acting in a manner to eliminate competition and maintain that monopoly. They are not doing this by producing a better product, or offering it at a cheaper price, but by clubbing smaller entities with "intellictual property" laws and forcing common aggreements on everyone.

    In sum:
    1. The RIAA is looks a monopoly.
    2. The RIAA acts like a monopoly.
    3. The RIAA acts against smaller firms to maintain the monopoly. (Prevent compeititors from entering the market.)

    That sounds to me like enough of an argument for Sherman Anti-Trust to be applied.
    If you RTA you'll see that the webcasters don't want to get the music for free, but just for a price they can afford... Which is a good argument when RIAA acutally pays radio to do exactly what the webcasters do.

    • The Sherman Act is dead with this Congress and President.

      They had Microsoft dead to rights and convicted, and even with a friendly neo-con court to mitigate the judgement, the Justice department let them go. Just... let them go, with a wink and a smile.

      Anti-monolpoly law is dead for this generation, and possibly for all time.
  • by Teknogeek (542311) <technogeek@gm a i l.com> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:17PM (#6815077) Journal
    The complaint goes like this:

    Prior to when the current webcaster royalty rates were determined, the RIAA met with Yahoo! to work out rates seperate from those put forth by the Librarian of Congress, or LOC. The LOC, in turn, used the Yahoo! rates as the baseline for a "fair market" royalty value.

    A similar case occured between SoundExchange (a wholly owned subsidiary of the RIAA) and the Voice of Webcasters (VOW) organization, except that the rate was now four times what the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (what the LOC based the final decision on) had deemed okay.

    The lawsuit alleges that the RIAA unfairly inflated the Yahoo! royalties to the point where they would not legitmately be a 'fair market value'...it was price-fixing, with Yahoo! as (possibly) an unsuspecting ally.

    But what about Voice of Webcasters? Good question. The suit also claims that the RIAA/VOW negotiations were in bad faith on the part of the RIAA, and that the RIAA forced those VOW members who remained for the entire negotiation to enter into an agreement, later encoded into law as the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002, that would make it even harder for webcasters to survive.

    Basically, the Webcaster Alliance wants the RIAA to be barred from enforcing their copyrights against webcasters until a legitimate, non-abusive rate can be found, and that the RIAA pay for their legal fees.

    They're also asking for a jury trial. IANAL (duh), so I don't know if that's a good or bad idea.
  • by kingLatency (624983) <.alex.kahn. .at. .comcast.net.> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:17PM (#6815079) Homepage
    Whether this group succeeds or not, it's good to see them standing up and fighting. The general populus might take more notice and the government certainly will. This is a step in the right direction.
  • by poopie (35416) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:31PM (#6815221) Journal
    It seems that the current generation raised on Internet don't realize that for hundreds of years there have been laws esatablished to protect people's rights and just because law on the internet has been difficult to enforce doesn't mean that people's rights stopped being important.

    There is an alarming trend for the opensource community to appear to outsiders as very cavalier with issues dealing with protecting rights for others to derive profit from their works. Perhaps the mindset is "I gave all my code away for free, why should I care if you make money from your game/music/movie/software/patent/intellectual property/licensed image/registered trademark ?".

    Do "opensourcers" belive that if something is not covered by a GPL-like license that it's okay to ignore that license, just because they're not afraid of being caught?

    I'm all for patent reform and whatnot, but... until laws are changed, those laws still exist. Do I think that the RIAA and MPAA are locked in a downward spiral and that they're getting ready to pull a 'SCO'? Sure I do. With a world full of indedpendent artists and movie makers and the internet as a distribution method, It's completely conceivable that we could have "GPL" bands and movie studios releasing GOOD STUFF onto P2P network. Hey opensource/free software community: In a band? Have a video camera?

    Ever wonder why department stores play MUZAK? It's because they PAY a company for the rights to play that MUZAK in their store, and MUZAK is cheaper than real music. If we really care so much, isn't it our responsibility to provide an alternative?

    If you own a bar and play a radio with hip-hop tunes on it, do you know that you should be paying royalties to the artists? Do you know that if you run a restaurant and you show a movie in your restaurant that you are supposed to pay royalties?

    Do you know that you're not allowed to have a picture of Bart Simpson on your website? Do you know that your favorite movie sound clips may not be 'fair use'?

    Just because the internet has made it easy to share content, doesn't mean it's right or legal. Try to picture it from the viewpoint of Linux vs. Commerical OSes - if you don't want to support MPAA and RIAA, then *WE* need to provide an alternative, otherwise we need to play by their rules or petition to have the rules changed.
    • I disagree with you're assumption that open-source advocates are pirates. Look, just because we have high ideals of what software should be, doesn't mean we disobey the law. The fact is, these small webcasters can do whatever the hell they want in the court of law. That's the whole point of the justice system. They may get completely shot down for an idiotic case, or they might win. Laws can be rewritten, corporations thwarted. It may be difficult, but change IS possible. It's up to the judge. Do you
    • True enough, but just because something "has always been" doesn't mean its going to stay the same. The fact of the matter point towards one thing: Human Nature is like water, it takes the path of least resistance. If music *can* be acquired for free with little risk of consequences, that path will be flooded. From highway speeding to parking meters, people take calculated risks.

      The shift I'm talking about though is that digital information has essentially become trivial to copy. Combined with the fact
    • The RIAA is like a donkey cart owner suing the automobile. You're not good for anything anymore so just sit down and shut up. IP as we know it is a totally recent creation. Before that there was no pop music machine. You couldn't make one shitty song, have a huge company cram it down the throats of everyone in the world, and rape people in the ass for 20$ a pop. You couldn't own a sound. You owned yourself, and your guitar, and your skills to play it. No, to become famous, you had to actually ACCOMPL
  • by MacWiz (665750) <gzieman54.gmail@com> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:55PM (#6815446) Journal
    The slashdot crowd is more intelligent than most, so I'd like to help everyone understand the portions that aren't even present in the above article and are certainly a part of this story, as I have been talking to Ann Gabriel of the Webcaster Alliance on a regular basis lately.

    This is not about the actual rate per song, although it is certainly an issue, as much as it is about the fact that the people who are forced to pay this rate are not given a chance to take part in the negotiations. This is in part to the prohibitive cost to enter into the negotiations, as anyone who wants to participate in the CARP hearings must bear the cost of the hearing itself, which consistently runs into more than a million dollars per hearing. The cost of the hearings is not determined until it is finished, and is calculated at the rate of $200 per hour for each of the lawyers on the panel.

    The real issue is that the RIAA pre-negotiates with the major players, leaving them as the sole representative of, oh, everyone in control of the current music cartel. This means that they are colluding their copyright power to exclude others from negotiating.

    In the Napster case, the federal judge found that the RIAA was a monopoly and was using collusion in a refusal to negotiate, which was the basis for David Boise's counter-suit and a blatant violation of the antitrust laws. In Napster, the judge decided that since Napster was "bad" first, the RIAA got away with it.

    The webcasters consistently get told by the RIAA that they are playing too much independent music, in a manner that legally amounts to threats and bullying. Many webcasters have dropped major label music altogether.

    The other issue is that the RIAA, through SoundExchange, which is basically an RIAA subsidiary, collects all the money for royalties. Since the independent artists are not part of the RIAA, we will never get paid our portion of rightfully earned royalties.

    Additionally, the FTC has found the RIAA in violation of the antitrust laws several times in the past 12 months alone -- price-fixing seems to be the greatest consistently violated provision but one seldom spoken of violation was using the record clubs to avoid paying royalties to authors. Each time they get caught, they settle out of court, try to kick it under the rug and continue on their merry way.

    The RIAA completely controls radio, the media, and is now trying exert its monopoly over the Internet. In the case of the Internet, the real problem is that the indies can use it, too.

    Considering that the music industry sends out in excess of $4 billion annually in free physical goods (average over the past five years), you'd think that they would embrace the free promotional tool available. The problem for them is that the independents have access to it, too.

    The entire idea behind calling downloaders pirates and making the false assertion that downloading copyrighted material is theft is to intentionally exclude the tens of thousands of us who WANT people to download and listen to our music.

    It's not about those fractions of a penny per song. It's about the fact that less than 10 percent of the recorded music controls more than 90 percent of the market. The rest of us aren't allowed in.

    We can reach a global audience without the record labels right now. That's why the RIAA is fighting so hard to criminalize P2P. Because then they own the entire market for recorded music and the only way to reach the public will be through a major label contract -- again.

    Antitrust is the ONLY way to stop the RIAA.
  • 1. I actually read the complaint, and it makes sense to me. OBTWIANAL

    2. The complaint is in plain english, hereby disqualifying it fit for Slashdot Bashing.

    3. This is slasdot so here it goes anyway :)

    eddie had an internet station run out of high school
    Found out about CARPA fees, man he was blue
    He met a girl DJ, she was bummed too
    The future was in question

    They moved their setup into a place they both could afford
    He found a nightclub he could broadcast live for
    Live bands over the net caused some discord
    Th
  • by msimm (580077) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:04PM (#6815542) Homepage
    I'm surprised how little about Fee Waivers I've seen. I'm aware of one lable (Artemis Records [onstagemag.com]) who had agreed to waive their fees (statutory licensing [cornell.edu]).

    Why not reward companies (or individuals) who are willing to be more flexable? I'll be sending out a flurry of requests of the next month (preparing to launch my own micro internet radio) and I will only be featuring artists who are willing to be played for the free promotion alone. Why support the RIAA?

    Big companies might not be able to do this, but they probably have the budget (and income) to pay for the right to use the music. They probably should pay.
  • ALL ABOUT CONTROL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asscroft (610290) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:11PM (#6815619)
    As many others have pointed out already, this is all about control. They can control the radio so that you hear the same 7-10 songs every hour. The only time you hear something outside of that block is when someone has a new album coming out and you hear all their old stuff that week. They never play anything else. They never play anything different.

    There are far too many internet radio stations possible for them to be able to buy them all the way they've bought radio (Payola..don't argue this fact. Radio is paid for. ASK anyone in radio before you argue this fact). As a result I can go online and listen to nothing but bob marley, or protest songs from the 60s or polka or russion techno or even just plain old 80's cheese. NOt during lunch. NOt once a year on some special holiday weekend. anytime I want. They can't use internet radio to push this week's hot new albums or the billboard top 40 adn it pisses them off to no end. So instead they're gonna price the fees in such a way as to kill off all the internet radio stations except for a handful who will undoubtedly sign special contracts agreeing to pay less in exchange for "format control". the result: You get less. You get less music. You get less variety. You get to expand you mind and musical boundaries less. YOu get to hear your old favorites less. YOu get less.

    RIAA gets more control.

    That ain't right. Internet radio should NOT have per-listener fees.
  • by PeterChenoweth (603694) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:38PM (#6815916)
    As many /.'ers know, in 2002 the Library of Congress decided on .07 cents per song (retroactive to '98).

    Really? How in the world did they get away with making a law retroactive? I could have sworn that was prohibited in the constitution, something about ex post facto laws...

    • If I may, not because I am a naysayer, but because I care about the Consitution and want to protect what it really says. When someone misquotes or misunderstands it that hurts everyone.

      Ex post facto in the Constitution refers strictly to criminal law. Congress can't make something illegal now and go back and prosecute people for it. They can't add new punishment for people who already did something. Etc.

      This is not really criminal law so they can constitutionally do this. Just like they could retroac
  • Did anyone else notice several (3) typos in the complaint [webcasteralliance.com]?

    Examples:
    pg 11 VII. PRAYER FOR RELIEF
    WHEREFORE, PLAINTIFF PARYS FOR RELIEF AS FOLLOWS:
    --
    pg 10 24 One such barrier,m for instance
    --
    pg 6 paragraph 33: Sound recordings which are either created or distributed in the United States accounts for approximately $14 billion in annual revenues.
    --

    IMNBAL,BIAA (I may not be a lawyer, but I am anal)
  • by NormalVisual (565491) * on Thursday August 28, 2003 @03:01PM (#6816861)
    Okay, as I understand it, the RIAA is making the argument that each listener on a given webcast is copying a song to do so, and the broadcaster is thus liable for that. Bear with me and let's assume for the sake of argument that this is valid reasoning.

    Now, where does that leave satellite radio and the digital cable providers like Time Warner who have dedicated music channels in their offerings? By the same line of reasoning, are not both of these distribution methods liable for the same goofy "one listener, one copy" line of reasoning the RIAA has managed to foist onto webcasters? If not, why? The digital reciever in your dashboard or the cable box has to copy the content just like your computer does when listening to a webcast. What about DTV stations that run concerts? If being a digital broadcast is what has the RIAA's panties in a wad re: webcasters, it seems horribly unfair to level ridiculous fees on them, but not the other digital broadcasters.
  • Apples and Oranges (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @03:57PM (#6817404) Journal
    A shoutcast stream at 32K (somewhere less than AM quality) with the possibillity of "getting lucky" and having 20 users (from around the world) connected at various times throughout any given month will be a hobby that will cost you around $25 - $100 (about 200 GB of data if the slots stayed filled) to just make available. You will not be making any money. Do it for fun.

    So -- I am paying an average of $50 bucks a month to stream less than AM quality music to at the most 20 simultanious users.....Yet at the very least they want me to pay $2500 minimum yearly plus about $7 per listener per month to do this.

    That is ludicrus. That is awful. What do I owe if I invite 25 friends to a party at my house put 50 CD's I have purchased in a CD changer, hit shuffle and then play in the background as my party goes on for 4 hours? That is more akin to what a webbrodcast is -- than comparing it to a real life FOR PROFIT radio company that has the advanatge of a small dial that can only fit 15 or so channels in a band between 87+ to 108.0 and lots of bored people driving their cars home from work.

    Look at shoutcast -- you have almost 4000 servers competing for 30,000 users. Each server has anywhere between 5 and 500 slots. Their is no commercial radio station that could make payroll for 1 week with those kind of demographics.
  • by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @04:17PM (#6817650) Journal
    Ok. Try this on for size. Why would anything less than the ability to stream 128 kbits per second to at least a potential 1000 users scare the RIAA. I mean look at the bandwidth that would take:

    Calculations Complete For 1000 listeners at 128 kbps Calculations @ 1 Month Kilobits = 364,953,600,000 Kilobytes = 45,619,200,000 Megabits = 348,046,875 Megabytes = 43,505,859 Gigabits = 324,144 Gigabytes = 40,518

    Even having the possibility to have 100 users at a time would run you about 4,052 GB per month. I think the price of bandwidth alone should be enough to regulate the threat for the RIAA.

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