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Internet Radio on Death Row (Linux Journal)

Doc Searls looks at Internet Radio. "Internet Radio has been sentenced to death. In a move that recalls the Vogons' decision to destroy Earth to clear the way for a highway bypass through space (a thankfully fictional premise of Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), the judges comprising the Copyright Royalty Board have decided to destroy the Internet radio industry so the Recording Industry won't be inconvenienced by something it doesn't know, like or understand."
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Internet Radio on Death Row (Linux Journal)

Posted Mar 9, 2007 17:47 UTC (Fri) by horen (guest, #2514) [Link]

There are long-term solutions, most probably involving petitions and all the rest of the things which the majority of us can do painlessly and passively. However, in the short-term, each of us who is a regular listener of one-or-more Internet radio stations needs to decide if s/he is going to "put our money where our ears are" [apologies for the mangled aphorism].

On the average, I listen to WMUD, streaming from the Green Mountains of Vermont, some 3-4 hours/day. It's a relaxing and eclectic mix of acoustic and vocal music, and I enjoy it.

After reading this article, I decided that, since I subscribe to LWN, I ought to do the same with WMUD; so, I contributed $20 via PayPal. It should be more, but I'm unemployed. One of these days I'll get back on-track, and will be in a position to "do [more of] the right thing" vis-a-vis WMUD... and LWN, too.

It's going to be in the short-term, that Internet radio stations face the "make-or-break" challenge. If we listen to them, let's also be there for them financially.

Internet Radio on Death Row (Linux Journal)

Posted Mar 9, 2007 17:57 UTC (Fri) by ronaldcole (subscriber, #1462) [Link]

Methinks it would send a clearer signal to the new taxing authority to pay botnet operators to stop spamming and create 50 million internet radio stations.

You didn't do the math

Posted Mar 9, 2007 21:34 UTC (Fri) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

The assessed fee is $0.0011 per performance (defined as the streaming of one song to one listener). If you have the station on in the background for an eight-hour day, every day, it comes to over $64 per year. Your voluntary contribution of $20 is insufficient if you are a regular listener. Free Internet radio will have to disappear, and everyone will have to be charged.

Meanwhile, the rate Clear Channel pays for analog radio broadcast is $0.

You didn't do the math

Posted Mar 10, 2007 4:15 UTC (Sat) by horen (guest, #2514) [Link]

JoeBuck: "The assessed fee is $0.0011 per performance (defined as the streaming of one song to one listener). If you have the station on in the background for an eight-hour day, every day, it comes to over $64 per year. Your voluntary contribution of $20 is insufficient if you are a regular listener. Free Internet radio will have to disappear, and everyone will have to be charged."

I can -- and will -- pay more frequently than once-a-year. $20 per/quarter is reasonable to me. I don't like NPRs slant on things, but I do watch the "MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour" on PBS every evening, and the occasional Nova special; yes, I make pledges and pay them. Different strokes, and all that.

The point is that "listener-sponsored" is quite probably going to have to be extended to radio, in addition to television. Shift happens.

You didn't do the math

Posted Mar 10, 2007 22:43 UTC (Sat) by dsearls (guest, #37174) [Link]

Actually, terrestrial radio stations (including Clear Channel's) pay to play -- but they pay BMI, ASCAP and SESAC usage fees that go to composers, not performers. The RIAA always felt that performers got a raw deal there, and decided to shake down Internet radio for what they couldn't get from terrestrial radio.

Rumours of death exaggerated

Posted Mar 10, 2007 5:46 UTC (Sat) by pjm (subscriber, #2080) [Link]

First, let’s note that this change in rates affects only US copyright so far. Rest assured that there are both Internet radio stations and sound recording copyright owners outside of the US. (I've just been checking out a few that are relayed by my Australian ISP, Internode.)

More importantly, these rates are just for compulsory licensing of recordings, so act as an upper bound on license fees: nothing prevents copyright owners from licensing their music on different terms to broadcasters who prefer those different terms. (This is even stated explicitly in US copyright law, Title 17, §114(f)(3).)

If these new rates are too expensive for Internet radio stations, then it's the end of Internet radio giving airtime and license fees to those who don't voluntarily license the music to which they have copyright, but probably not the end of Internet radio in the US.

To radio stations and listeners, I suggest looking at http://www.magnatune.com/ or more generally at recommender systems like Gnomoradio and IRate that look at lots of sources of freely downloadable music (whether in the public domain or already licensed for commercial broadcast, or whose copyright owners are likely to be more amenable to licensing for broadcast by Internet radio stations).

Rumours of death exaggerated

Posted Mar 10, 2007 7:19 UTC (Sat) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Plus the rates can be overruled by more direct licensing agreement between the copyright holders and the radio stations.

I suspect that something that runs parrellel to the creative commons effort to provide different licensing standards that artists, publishers, and internet radio.

So you can have a licensing and royalty standard group that is seperate from the library of congress one.

Say they could set a tiered model were you could use certain group of songs for gratis, a free for non-profit/but pay royalties for commercial use for that, and then a third group for premium music only. Then indie artists or publishers can sign a contract and submit songs to one of those categories.

The difficult part is accounting, collecting royalties, and redistributing royalties.

So maybe for that they could establish a standard protocol or set of programs that will provide a list of aviable songs that a radio station can select from and build playlists from.

That way independant radio and independant artists can get together and create a good way to deal with royalties so both can survive and make money outside the commercial empires the RIAA and friends have created for themeselves.

Rumours of death exaggerated

Posted Mar 11, 2007 0:09 UTC (Sun) by dsearls (guest, #37174) [Link]

While any copyright holder can cut their own deal, the burden of "clearing rights" (a practice that employs buildings full of lawyers in Los Angeles, working mostly for the movie industry) on a song-for-song or rightsholder-for-rightsholder basis, is too high even for well-oiled radio operations to bear. This is why podcasters (at least in the U.S.) avoid all but the most independent music sources (such as Magnatunes). This even includes KCRW in Los Angeles. The station's popular weekday Morning Becomes Eclectic program is also podcast, sort of. Only two MBE programs in February and none in March were "podsafe" and made into podcasts. The fact that KCRW is a high-profile and well-connected institution in Los Angeles says much about the frictions involved in clearing rights on anything other than a blanket basis (such as the one provided by the CRB, expensive though it may be).

By the way, there is no guarantee that KCRW will continue to play music over the air, since the latest CRB ruling even killed what protections there were for noncommercial stations.

I think the best answer is to provide listeners with low-friction open source tools to log what they listen to, know what they're getting and voluntarily pay for that. In fact, we have taken on exactly that challenge both within ProjectVRM at the Berkman Center, and in the Public Media and Open Source working group that met at the Beyond Broadcast conference a couple weeks ago.

So some development efforts are afoot. Feel free to jump in and help out.

Rumours of death exaggerated

Posted Mar 13, 2007 6:53 UTC (Tue) by jpick (guest, #29470) [Link]

In some ways, there's a silver lining to all this.

The younger generation is getting it's music from the Internet. They aren't listening to the radio.

The old-style record companies don't know what to do with their catalogs. They'll keep them off the internet.

The kids will never know that the old stuff exists. They'll naturally gravitate towards stuff they can acquire directly on the Internet. Many will even pay money directly to the musicians making the music!

The new-style labels know this, and are positioning themselves as services and artist communities, and they'll be able to harness the power of the internet. Artists will find that they can retain rights over their works, and relicense them in any manner which suits them.

The poor old records companies will be stuck with tonnes of recordings that few will know or even care about. Don't you feel sorry for them?


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