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Music Media

Copyright Office Proposes Webcasting Regs 298

deadsquid writes: "Streaming to a desktop near you, the death knell of online radio stations. Continuing to pave the money trail the RIAA and others claim to be theirs and theirs alone, the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel has released their ideas on what webcasters should pay to re-broadcast copyrighted material over the Internet. A good summary can be found at the Radio and Internet Newsletter, which provides an outline of what hoops net broadcasters must jump through, in addition to what they must pay. To say the rates are ridiculous is an understatement, and the amount of information required from the broadcaster to the copyright holder is ludicrous. The cost of bandwidth and delivery is already high enough, and this ruling, if upheld, kinda removes any hope of surmounting operating costs and continuing on. " Webcasters will have to report a great deal of information about their listeners according to the reporting requirements that the Copyright Office has proposed.

I thought I'd just summarize briefly for people who don't follow these issues:

Copyright law gives the record companies the right to prevent others from making copies of "their" music, except in certain cases where there is a "compulsory license" written into the law. In these cases, the record companies can't prevent anyone from using "their" music, but there is a mandatory fee that they must get paid. This "compulsory license" scheme was meant to keep the music industry from taking over the radio industry by simply refusing to license their music to certain radio stations (ones that didn't play ball, naturally). The U.S. Copyright Office sets the fees and revises them occasionally.

So the same idea was applied to webcasting music. In theory, this keeps the record companies from eliminating all-but-one or all-but-a-couple of the webcasters - anyone can webcast, you just have to pay the fee. However, if the record industry has too much influence over the process, they might try things like getting "compulsory license" fees set very high, or making sure that the record-keeping requirements are so onerous that it's impossible to comply with them.

In effect, this eliminates the "compulsory license" - because it's economically infeasible to comply with it. Webcasters can still seek individual licenses from the record companies, but this gets back to the original problem - the record companies have no obligation to make life easy for the nascent webcaster.

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Copyright Office Proposes Webcasting Regs

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