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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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  • by xee ( 128376 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:33PM (#3041391) Journal
    I'm enjoying this opportunity to get a near-first post to voice my opinion about a topic i hold very near and dear to my heart. It's right there next to my American pride, and my severe freedom-loving disorder.

    I think we should not be *discouraged* by this rediculous legislation. The RIAA will continue to trampel our rights to speech and expression as long as they are able to go after every single offender of these new laws. Once we achieve a critical mass greater than their lawyers can handle, they will no longer have the ability to force this legislation onto us.

    This strategy of disregard for the American Way will stand as long as there are enough sheep out there buying every product the RIAA supplies them with.

    The RIAA is amazingly better than Microsoft at manipulating the public. Not only is the RIAA trampeling our rights with this legislation, but they are raising our children to appreciate tasteless music. Once the youth of America grows up with no taste or preference for music, movies, or art, they will have no cause to stand up for their rights. There will be no reason to fight for the right to broadcast the music they like simply because they will have been trained to not like any particular music. There will be no impetus for creative expression once there is no example of creative expression.

    The RIAA must be boycotted on a large scale. Do not buy your children the newest pop-craze. Do not pay royaltees for what is explicitly allowed in the copyright law. Do not succumb to the legislation that seeks to revoke and repeal the rights granted to us by the framers of the constitution.

    Since everyone is on the terrorist bandwagon, i'd like to point something out: legislation of this sort (including the DMCA et al) is perhaps more anti-American than any terrorist organization could ever hope to be. While the terrorists are trying to fuck up our system from the outside, corporate interest is SUCCESSFULLY fucking it up from the inside.


    This all begs the question: if Osama bin Laden is so rich, why doesn't he just hire a few lobbyists. It seems to work pretty well for the RIAA, MPAA, and others.
  • Re:BMI and stuff (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xonker ( 29382 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:35PM (#3041400) Homepage Journal
    Well, if they aren't paying ASCAP and BMI, then the webcasters are obviously in violation of the copyrights of the record companies.

    Yes, they should have to pay the same fees that radio stations do -- but to make them jump through hoops that radio broadcasters do not have to jump through -- including logging each user, every song/program and such is ridiculous.

    It costs a hell of a lot more to put up radio towers and pay for a studio and hosts than it does to load up a couple of servers and stream data.

    Yes, this is very true. Still, there's no excuse for the restrictions that they're trying to impose on Internet broadcasters.

    Radio stations only have to provide playlist information a few days a year (used to mete out royalties collected by ASCAP and BMI to artists) -- they do not have to provide information about every single song they play and they are certainly not responsible for reporting who might be listening to the stations.

    These guys are going to be some of the first up against the wall when the revolution comes...
  • by Ryu2 ( 89645 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:41PM (#3041426) Homepage Journal
    And a listener's log listing: 1) The name of the service or entity

    Straightforward, I guess.

    2) The channel or program


    3) the date and time that the user logged in (the user's timezone)

    User's time zone? This would require resolution of the country that they were in, at the least (see #7 for why this is impossible), and even then it would be insufficient for large coutries, like the US, Canada or Russia...

    And how do you define logging in/logging out in a inherently stateless web? Will all streaming sites require cookies/login schemes?

    4) the date and time that the user logged out (the user's timezone)

    5) The time zone where the signal was received (user)

    See above...

    6) Unique User identifier

    I think only MS and Real support this invasion of privacy. Does this therefore exclude other streaming formats like ogg and mp3? More money for MS and Real?

    7) The country in which the user received the transmissions

    Impossible to determine exactly. At best, reverse DNS lookup. But what if your reverse DNS resolves not to a country, but a gTLD? Do they expect a lookup of WHOIS data (usually inaccurate) to find out the country of a IP address?

    In short, I see no way of getting most data the data without massive invasions of privacy and fundamental changes to software and Internet standards...
  • Re:Lets not forget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:42PM (#3041437) Homepage
    Unfortunately, it is difficult for the end user to do so, since it isn't their work being ripped off. The artists must stand strong and united and say, "Hey! We made that music, and we don't like how you are restricting it! Why don't we just go and start our own association, one that doesn't put silly restrictions on things and prevent us from getting the fair end of the deal! It's time for the RIAA to stop taking advantage of us, the musicians, and our fans!"
  • by ebbomega ( 410207 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:50PM (#3041467) Journal
    I think in 1990, Christian Slater starred in a movie called Pump Up The Volume, in which he portrayed "Happy Hardon Harry", an introverted geek-boy by day, but a sexually charged authority-fighting anarchistic pirate Radio personality by night.


    The FCC was called in after Harry got a letter from a kid who claimed he wanted to commit suicide. Harry calls up the kid, and talks with him, but doesn't do anything to push the kid away from killing himself. So, immediately after the phone call, the kid puts a gun against his head and pulls the trigger.

    So parents of this small suburban community get in an uproar about this Hardon Harry character as he begins to expose the plots of a principal who is attempting to make her school the number one school by expelling all students with too low grades. The more he discovers, the more intent that the principal and faculty, as well as the parents and FCC, are on shutting down this pirate radio show and putting Harry in jail.

    Once he is caught though, he announces to the kids (who have decided that the suburban repression of will they've been filtered through isn't necessary and have revolted against it) to keep the air alive, and make it theirs. The final shot is with the sound of dozens upon dozens of kids with their own pirate radio stations, reclaiming the "air" as theirs, just as he is thrown into the paddy-wagon and taken away by the FCC-charged police.

    See the similarities? A friend of mine sets up a webcast so that we can listen to him spin some records from time to time, occasionally, when he has friends over, they have "geek-out music" sessions, where we get a whole bunch of music and just play around with it, and let our friends listen to it. Why? Why not!

    So where do we draw the line? This isn't at all publicly advertised, so how in god's name do they intend on regulating this? It's going to simply blow up into a couple billion people setting up their own webcasts... it's like me setting up an ftp server off my cable connection so that my friends can get ahold of my MP3s.

    Next thing you know, the companies will be forcing people to sign release forms every time they buy a CD making them promise they will never play these CDs for their friends, or loan out your tapes, DJs will have to pay royalties every time they play a club or whatever. I'll have to be charged a $5 cover every time I want to go over to a friend's house and play with his records. Soon, police will be handing out Copywrite-infringement violation tickets at house parties because the people throwing the party didn't secure the rights to the CDs.

    The companies are burying themselves. It's going to get to the point that you're going to buy a CD and you won't be able to listen to it anyways because you don't own the rights to the CD. Soon it's going to get to a point where nobody is going to buy CDs ever again because they can't do anything with it. So the music companies are looking at their own elimination. Good job. Keep up the good work.
  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:51PM (#3041472) Homepage Journal
    Fine. Let the RIAA price their crap right off of the web. The last thing I want competing with pictures of my three month old daughter is a no save copy of a Lars drum lick. This will, hopefully, leave the big five music publishers further in the past and encourage more people to sign with independent studios and publishers like sought to be. Let them rule their litle airwave monopolies, let their listnership decline to zero and let them all perish, but keep that shit off the web.
  • by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:52PM (#3041479) Homepage
    Unfortunately, boycotting the RIAA does not work. Every little bit helps out, but they still make huge amounts of money through the mindless drones that go out and buy their "popular" music. Instead, we need to write every politician, news agency, and music label and protest the obscene actions of the RIAA. Through millions of voices, we will be heard.

    Also, I must be forced to disagree with your comparison of the RIAA with terrorists. Terrorists kill people. The RIAA tramples over their rights but does not kill them. If it killed them, they could no longer to afford to buy the RIAA's music, depriving them of profits. ;-)
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:58PM (#3041500) Homepage Journal
    It's happened: The buggy-whip makers have been put in charge of the auto industry. Piece by piece, at the bequest of the old-guard publishing industries, our courts and legislators are killing the Internet and the promise it held.

    Since 9/11, so many people have been quoting George Orwell's 1984. So for this circumstance, I'll have to choose a different quote from the same work, and adapt it:

    "If there is hope, it must come from South America and India". (Substitute for Orwell's proles)
  • by thumbtack ( 445103 ) <> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:58PM (#3041504)
    This hits the college stations and non-profits the hardest. Where dwindling budgets and volunteer help is the norm, many will just say that's it and pull the plug....One college station I'm familiar with has an annual budget of $30,000 dollars, total. They struggle everyday just to get by, and saw the internet as a way they could save money over maintaining expensive transmitters.
  • Re:Just an example (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Fanfan ( 264958 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:04PM (#3041530)
    You have your math wrong by 2 orders of magnitude. The proposed rate is 0.02c per performance, not $0.02 (that is 2c). So :

    120 listeners * 18 hrs/day * 12 perfs/hr = 25920 perfs/day. = $5.184 /day.>br>

    Not so outrageous. It still adds up to nearly $2.000 a year though...

    What's really outrageous is the very idea of paying anything to the RIAA mob knowing where's the money actually goes. Beats me...

    Do humanity a favor. Eat a RIAA lobbyist for breakfast.
  • by TheAwfulTruth ( 325623 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:05PM (#3041538) Homepage
    How about not buying the CD and not broadcasting it? Someone forcing you to buy that cd? Someone forcing you to broadcast it? How is it that you don't even see the other choices? Just ignore them and their product! Find other sources (They ARE out there if you look) If we want them to change a huge grass root movement of listeners is the ONLY possible solution.

    Think about it, why are you even rebroadcasting their product anyway. Because it attracts listeners? So what? If your non profit, then that's hardly necessary. There is all kinds of alternative material out there. Buying a cd and playing it over and over really is the lazy, feed the monster's way out. Because they KNOW you'll buy it is how they've gotten their power. Take the power away. Don't buy, don't broadcast. (Your only advertising for the evil that much more).
  • Re:Great :^) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:08PM (#3041549) Homepage
    What we need is a system that rips off neither the musicians nor the fans, not one that promotes illegal activity...

    Well, maybe... or perhaps we need to redefine what "ripping off" means wrt "intellectual property".

    I assert that the advent of cheap PCs on the the Internet changes what "natural rights" people ought to have. I believe that rights can and sometimes should change in response to changes in technology -- the Internet's great gift to humanity is that it makes data sharing as easy as speaking; that advantage outweighs the content producer's disadvantage of having to find a new business model to adapt.

    Specifically, people ought to be able to copy any data they want at any time, as long as they are not benefitting commercially from that copying. As for the artists, I think systems like OpenCulture [] or FairTunes [] may be the best answer to their problems.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky