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The Courts Government News

Small Webcasters get Powerful New Ally 362

An anonymous reader writes "On, Sunday, October 20, 2002, the RIAA's subsidiary, SoundExchange, was set to introduce draconian new fees on small internet webcasters - fees that were designed to drive those webcasters out of business and preserve the RIAA's monopoly on the distribution of music in North America. One of those small webcasters is the Triangle's classical music station, WCPE - quite possibly the finest classical music station in the world. Now it turns out that WCPE has an 800 lb gorilla in their corner, and he's set his sights on the RIAA."
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Small Webcasters get Powerful New Ally

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  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jaybird144 ( 558619 ) <> on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:46PM (#4497205)
    I'm Jesse Helms fighting for or against the webcasters? From the /. post, I thought it was on behalf of them, but the article seems to say the opposite:

    "Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican, on Thursday night blocked legislation designed to ease the financial impact on small Webcasters."

    Does someone "in the know" want to clarify? Please?

  • by domninus.DDR ( 582538 ) <> on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:47PM (#4497219) Homepage
    The best trance stations on the internet went down because of this law, and my music selection has hurt since. The only one left is Digitally Imported, which is ok but I like Tag's Trance and XTC radio better. A "dance" radio station started broadcasting in dallas recently, it is ok but is very repetitive. And I did buy two or three cds of artists I had heard on tag's or xtc, but now I buy none. Well, those were import CDs anyway and RIAA probably didnt get anything from them.
  • by f97tosc ( 578893 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:52PM (#4497301)
    What is the role of the government in all of this and why is there a need to regulate these prices?

    If I am an independent musician, can't I just make a deal with a local webcaster at a rate that we negotiate?

    Does anybody know?

  • Stations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrugCheese ( 266151 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:53PM (#4497304)
    Chemlab []
    Philosomatika []
    FlareSound []
    Link it
    Love it

    Don't forget to email your congressmen

    Who obvious has a filter set up to delete emails from constituents.
  • by cornice ( 9801 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:53PM (#4497305)
    You can: A, pay this wildly insane rate that will put you out of business. B, pay this lesser wildly insane rate that will put you out of business. C, hold out for a better deal.
  • by seosamh ( 158550 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:54PM (#4497319)
    I'm not a big fan of Jesse Helms, but it appears
    that he is doing exactly what he should do as a
    senator for North Carolina. He's representing the
    interests of the state's residents in the Senate,
    vs. representing the interests of an out of state
    campaign donor.

    How many states stand to gain under the webcasting
    rates as approved in the House? Will there be a lot
    of new jobs pursuing small webcasters who haven't
    paid up? Will there be a lot of new technical skills
    dispersed through the population by reducing the
    number of webcasters through expensive licensing
    and/or royalies fees? Will there be a boom in artisic
    expression thanks to reduced chances for artists to
    gain exposure?

    Helms is right on this one. I wish more legislators
    were looking out for their own constituencies on
    matters like this, DMCA, etc.
  • Helms and NC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:57PM (#4497355) Homepage Journal
    So, Jesse Helms has not held onto his Senate seat for as long as he has by not taking care of his constituents. However, he's retiring this year, which means that he's not going to be able to do this for much longer. It's unclear whether either of the folks running for his seat (Elizabeth Dole and Erskine Bowles) will take the same position.

    The real question is... Why are Rep. Howard Coble (Also North Carolina - R) and Sen. Ernest Hollings (South Carolina - D) not doing the same thing?
  • Hmm, classical music (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:09PM (#4497492) Homepage
    A large chunk of classical music manuscripts are out of copyright. That means that if you can find someone to perform it, you can create free music. How are musicians paid? Recordings of concerts, where the costs are already met by selling tickets, might be one way. The quality won't be as high as a specially-made recording but it might be good enough. Whether the performers would agree depends on how much money they would get from enforcing copyright on the recording and trying to sell it commercially (not much I suspect).
  • by cpw ( 613005 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:21PM (#4497629) Homepage
    What if my stream ONLY plays content that I created and that I hold copyright on? I have a stream that plays a three hour loop of the Best of my radio show, so I own the copyright on that and it's all that's on the stream... Why should I pay the RIAA for this? I'm not signed, and I'm just doing it in an effort to get more listeners for my show (which is webcast by my University, which does/will pay royalities for all music it streams).

    Any insights would be greatly appreciated...
  • by robbo ( 4388 ) <slashdot AT simra DOT net> on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:27PM (#4497686)

    For some insight into the bill and why it's bad, read this slashdot story [].
    I agree that the Yahoo story is confusing, and it gives one pause to wonder why they're spinning it as bad for webcasters. Is there some hidden agenda?
  • Disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nugneant ( 553683 ) <c45kyew02@sneake ... inus threevowels> on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:55PM (#4497940) Homepage Journal
    I work in a large CD store on the East Coast (Which one? I'll give you a hint, we've been financially fucked ever since the late 1990s, only partially due to P2P, more due to some really stupid decisions made out in California [that's another hint]). This gives me a unique opportunity to get a mildly decent idea of what people are buying - there's an almost representative sample of college kids, ten year olds, minivan moms, old fogies, hippie burnouts, and Dr. Joe Average in his SUV. Granted, classical music is not the largest seller in this store. But the people who buy classical music buy in BULK. It's not uncommon for one customer to slap down three Benjamins (that's $300 for those of you not 'hip' to my street slang) at a time for his latest classical bonaza. And several "artists" (Charlotte Church, Bocelli, Sarah Vaughn, Diana Krall) have reguarly placed in the top 25 sellers for the store - during weeks when Dave Matthews, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other mainstream artists came out with new releases. Granted, I'm not a fan of any of these artists (and Ms. Krall is slightly more in the jazz/vocals realm) - but what's important is that these people are selling in big numbers, which means SOMEONE out there is buying the stuff. To say that "people don't like classical music nowadays" is a rather ignorant statement to make. One of the reasons why classical doesn't often make it to the charts is that, let's take an example... Beethoven's 9th symphony. Would you like the Berlin Philharmonic [], the Vienna Philharmonic [], the London Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Ensemb-- do you understand my point? There's a wealth of different versions to choose from, and so the already merely-moderate consumer base is spread even thinner.

    Granted, classical isn't usually that popular with the under-30 crowd (generalization). But it's been constantly popular with the elderly for the past three or four generations - and those aren't the same elderly, because OLD PEOPLE DIE. However, new ones are always cropping up to take their place. You can usually tell them by the Oldsmobiles with the stuffed animals in the back.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:58PM (#4497968)

    umm, how about the fact that almost all music is released by companies belonging to the RIAA ?

    I'm not sure everyone wants to hear predominantly garage/club music. There's a good reason why a lot of it (not all though) remains there.
  • by Xentax ( 201517 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:21PM (#4498179)
    I've lived in North Carolina pretty much my entire life, and I'm celebrating the fact that Helms will finally be out of office after this election. Great, he made the right call this time, but a broken clock is right twice a day, too.

    Helms has stayed on office for this long for ONE very simple reason: He's pro-tobacco, and tobacco farmers in NC are almost "activists" when it comes to keeping their interests represented in the government, around here. If the tobacco market collapses, the ones who can't effectively change to another cash crop will be out of business, and most such farms are family affairs.

    Helms' approach wouldn't work, except most other people seem too apathetic to bother voting someone else in; so, while people complain about it, they don't DO anything about it, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

    I'm looking forward to this year's election: A woman from out of state on one side, and a Democrat on the other -- talk about a dilemma! ;) I don't know what the conservative Republicans are making of this year's election, but I'm sure it'll be a lot more interesting than the last few have been...

    The Helms Era is finally ending, and at least some folks are going to celebrate.

  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:50PM (#4498431) Homepage Journal
    If a webcaster is based outside of the USA and includes a limitation clause that prohibits USA listeners from tuning in, would it be exempt from paying these licenses?
  • by sstory ( 538486 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:56PM (#4498480) Homepage
    I've been awaiting the damage to WCPE for some time. Happy to see that they might not be affected so greatly. WCPE is a great station where they play classical music and DON'T just get money from the government, like PBS. It's a good example of how the market has demonstrated the ability to provide something people think it can't, more efficiently than the government.
  • by biohazard99 ( 114288 ) <> on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:04PM (#4499037) Homepage Journal
    Amazing how public preception works. Since FDR's administration (1932-1945), the democratic party has decided that bread and circuses (wealth redistribution via social programs) are an effective means of getting reelected. Social security, welfare (AFDC), food stamps, head start, job corps, etc all are born out of this idea of taxing at high rates and then creating a bigger and more bureaucratic gov't. They get media play amongst the poor, their cronies get jobs as gov't workers, and they get relected. Unfortuantely, people become dependent on transfer payments from the gov't and never can dig themselves out of that hole, bankrupting the treasury, causing higher taxes and more inefficency, ad naseum.

    To contrast the republican party has figured out a strategy that actually causes economic growth. The first step is balancing the budget or generating surpluses. There are three ways to do that, cutting defense/infrastructure spending( some call this corporate welfare, and done improperly, it is), cutting social spending, or raising taxes. None of the options look particularly good but by cost/benefit analysis, social programs are not as necesary for sustained economic growth, if the other two have their desired effects. Lower taxes or spending on useful projects (research, road development, arpanet) stimulates business growth, increasing employment. Employment means more money for goods consumption by the populus, leading to further employment and a good healthy economy, increasing revenue into the treasury despite a lower tax rate. If surpluses are present, they can be turned around into social spending/more frivilous expenses (performing arts, national parks).

    That's how "Reganomics" or "Trickle-Down Economics" is supposed to work, unfortunately, the only modern experiment in it was corrupted on two fronts, with both sides blaming the other. Regan had a grudge against the Soviet Union, spiralling defense spending out of proportion (corporate welfare) in hopes of starving out their capabilities of production. Democrats held on to their Social Security and other welfare programs because they controlled congress. With those two chewing a greater and greater federal debt every year. Late 1987, the economy went through a cyclic dip, similar to the one that we are in now, but as a result of high debt rates, people weren't able to weather the storm. Bush I made an additional mistake in 1990 by compounding the problem with a tax hike in the 1990 budget bill. This kept the economy from rising back up. After the republicans took congress in 94, they attempted to restart the experiment, producing a budget surplus, but the bubble burst in 2000-2001 and 9/11 put unique pressures on the economy. Assuming a republican senate take over, the experiment might be able to run from start to finish of an economic cycle, proving or disporving its viability as an economic model

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings