Killing the streaming.
We held off this month's comment in anticipation
of a US ruling regarding the copyright charges to be levied for music
streamed on the Internet, an issue of significant importance not only
to Internet-only webcasters but also to many terrestrial stations
both because of major amounts they may owe for the period back to
1998 and also as they will have to decide whether to continue to stream
their signal at all.
The bill from the past
The amounts due for past streaming are of major
importance because, just as they are having a fairly thin time,
stations may have to put aside significant funds to go into the
coffers of the recording companies for any music streamed until
the end of March this year. For streaming after that, new agreements
can be negotiated.
Death through detail
This, according to the RIAA is reasonable
and a practice already followed by many webcasters.
And quite what they do with a station that may be
playing old 45's, in some parts of the world even old 78's, or LP's,
we don't know since many of these do not carry all the information.
Reasonable for whom?
Maybe the big automated
services could provide most of this information but certainly
not many smaller stations which may have been tempted to stream
their signal but have not had much return on the investment they
What's to be done?
From the view of many a company, the answer to that is likely to be to drop the stream is the proposals are accepted but there'll still be the question of past payments, which may provide a veritable feast for the lawyers but won't benefit broadcasters or webcasters.
We have no problem with the principle of royalty payments but it is a reasonable question to ask if the overall good will be best satisfied by stifling streaming and what good at all will be served by moving money from radio companies to lawyers and recording companies. Far more reasonable to us would be the idea of payments to be comprised of a percentage of a company's profit, combined with a small percentage of revenue of the streamed service.
In the circumstances as they are, however, we rather hope that the National Association of Broadcasters wins its appeal in which it is arguing that the payments made for over the air transmissions should also cover use for streaming.
And we'd quite like some lawmakers with a sense
of justice: Maybe just rule that any station that has played any
recording that did not carry the details that the RIAA considers
"reasonable" and for which such detail is not immediately
available from the RIAA should gain immediate exemption from all
charges for the past plus a year in future! Would the RIAA consider
Any views? Please comment
on the above. For that matter, if you can put the time aside,
we'd like your "Guest comment" pages this year to stimulate
more feedback and dialogue.
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