Internet Radio Day of Silence

I found this when I went to Pandora today (one of those applications that makes the Internet so entirely cool and worth all the spam and flame wars).  I found this message:

Hi, it's Tim from Pandora,

I'm sorry to say that
today Pandora, along with most Internet radio sites, is going off the
air in observance of a Day Of Silence. We are doing this to bring to
your attention a disastrous turn of events that threatens the existence
of Pandora and all of internet radio. We need your help.

Ignoring all rationality and responding only to the
lobbying of the RIAA, an arbitration committee in Washington DC has
drastically increased the licensing fees Internet radio sites must pay
to stream songs. Pandora's fees will triple, and are retroactive for
eighteen months! Left unchanged by Congress, every day will be like
today as internet radio sites start shutting down and the music dies.

A bill called the "Internet Radio Equality Act" has already
been introduced in both the Senate (S. 1353) and House of
Representatives (H.R. 2060) to fix the problem and save Internet
radio--and Pandora--from obliteration.

I'd like to ask you to call your Congressional
representatives today and ask them to become co-sponsors of the bill.
It will only take a few minutes and you can find your Congresspersons and their phone numbers by entering your zip code here.

Your opinion matters to your representatives - so please take just a minute to call.

Visit www.savenetradio.org to continue following the fight to Save Internet Radio.

As always, and now more than ever, thank you for your support.

 


  -Tim Westergren
  (Pandora founder)

  • Ryan

    I also appreciate and use Pandora on a regular basis. But I'm a little bit fuzzy on why legislation is the appropriate reform in this instance.

    Should the recording studios be allowed to charge different rates to internet radio providers? Isn't that their right as the copyright holder? But at the same time, something doesn't feel right about their actions. Why should standard radio and electronic radio be subject to different laws regarding copyright usages? Is an "equalization" bill the answer?

    I'm not having much luck tracking down concise explanations of why legal reform is the answer here. Anyone have any pointers?

  • http://highwayx.wordpress.com Highway

    The main issue is that the Copyright Board rubber-stamped license rates that the RIAA came up with, based exclusively on number of listeners. Not based on station revenue, sales, any other monetary amount that's relevant to the station. And with the nature of the internet, that adds up really fast. Basically it was a way to drive Internet radio out of business entirely, because there's absolutely no chance that any internet radio station could make enough money to cover the licensing fees. It's also a fee structure that normal OTA radio does NOT have to pay.

    See here: http://www.reason.com/blog/show/119011.html

    This bill would set caps on the amount that stations would have to pay, and treat internet radio more like OTA FM and AM stations. The issue is that the RIAA essentially wants to punish internet radio.

    *editorializing* The RIAA could actually try to find a way to make money in a new way, but they won't. They want to stick to their old, middleman, ways of forcing everyone to go through them, and are down to using the threat of government to do it. All I can hope for is that there's enough wiggle room to bypass them entirely in the future, or that government (and folks like Microsoft) will quit pandering to them. So bypassing it is...

  • Ryan

    Highway,

    I guess I still don't the see the rational. So what if the RIAA wants to put internet radio out of existence? They are the IP owners, shouldn't they have a say in how much it costs to use their IP?

    I see the argument that its not fair because traditional radio doesn't have to pay these fees, but again, so what? Why shouldn't owners of intellectual property be allowed to determine what channels their IP is given to the public through? Further, I can agree with the RIAA's arguments that services like Pandora - where the user participates in the selection of songs - decrease demand for purchases of their product. Internet radio *is* different than traditional radio. So why shouldn't it have a different fee structure? The argument that it's all just "radio" so all the fees should be the same doesn't hold water. If internet radio and traditional radio were the same thing, then people wouldn't be so upset that internet radio is threatened.

    I think the real problem here is that the state of intellectual property law is still very muddled and patchworked when it comes to electronic dissemination through the internet. I think the law in general needs to be overhauled to take into account tech advances, but this is going to be a slow, gradual change. I don't think it helps the process by having the public vote itself cheaper rates for intellectual property.

    Having the public essentially vote itself (albeit through the legislative process) cheap internet radio seems a little iffy to me. How is that any different than the senators who try to legislate cheap gasoline to keep the public happy?