Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Music Media Your Rights Online

RIAA Wants Songwriter Royalty Lowered 343

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Lest there be anyone left who believes the RIAA's propaganda that its litigation campaign is intended to benefit the 'creators' of the music, Hollywood Reporter reports that the RIAA is asking the Copyright Royalty Board to lower songwriter royalties on song file downloads, from the present rate of 9 cents per song — about 13% of the wholesale price — down to 8% of wholesale. Meanwhile, the big digital music companies, such as Apple, want the royalty rate lowered even more, to something like 4% of wholesale. So any representations by any of these companies that they are concerned for the 'creators' of the music must henceforth be taken with a boxcar-load of salt."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

RIAA Wants Songwriter Royalty Lowered

Comments Filter:
  • Why the RIAA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelz ( 611260 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @11:12PM (#22302160)
    Why is the RIAA even able to set any sort of financial policy for its parent companies? I thought it was just a big bunch of lawyers! Should not each recording studio set compensation based on the contracts it signs with the artists?
  • Is anyone surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ISurfTooMuch ( 1010305 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @11:16PM (#22302190)

    Lest anyone be at all surprised, remember that RIAA stands for the Recording Industry Association of America. It represents the record companies, and that's all it represents. If these companies could find some legal way to hold a gun to a songwriter's or musician's head and take their work at gunpoint, they'd do it.

    I'm not going to insist that digital downloads are the future and that all artists should follow Radiohead's lead, but any artists who care at all about their future had damn well better examine every single alternative when figuring out how to produce and distribute their music. Things are changing, and you can be sure that the record companies are going to be looking out for their best interests. Artists had better do the same, or they're going to get screwed.

  • by victorvodka ( 597971 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @11:20PM (#22302234) Homepage
    Imagine if musicians had to pay out of pocket for every song that was distributed, say one cent per track. On the one hand, they'd be angry because it would mean that they would have to pay a lot if their songs reached a lot of people. But on the other, it would also be an indication of their popularity and the money to be made on concerts and schwag. This is analogous to what a web author has to deal with when his site hits the big time. And yet, web authors can usually figure out how to monetize the publicity and pay for the traffic. The fact that music could even make musicians money if they had to pay people to take their music sheds some light on the outdated nature of the industry.
  • by Kovac.anar ( 650162 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @11:20PM (#22302238)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the RIAA essentially a representative group formed with the intent of pushing forward goals and legal issues for the major record labels?
    If so, then they are doing an admirable job of inspiring people to direct ire and hared towards the constructed organisation rather than to the parent companies.
    It isn't often that I see people complaining about Sony or BMG (Comparatively speaking).
    It always seems to come down to that nasty RIAA.

    Well done indeed.
  • bypass the RIAA (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @11:26PM (#22302306)
    It would be great if there was a central site where artists could register to receive donations/payments that their fans wanted to give them in exchange for getting their music from an unofficial source, or just as a sign of appreciation.

    Say if you wanted Artist X's new album, but your preferred music store doesn't have it - you could just download it from any P2P site, then donate the recommended amount to them through this site.
  • Re:Why the RIAA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @11:51PM (#22302526) Journal
    Why is the RIAA even able to set any sort of financial policy for its parent companies? I thought it was just a big bunch of lawyers! Should not each recording studio set compensation based on the contracts it signs with the artists?

    I heard it was too complicated to do it that way. Maybe with modern computers it may be easier. It used to be that radio-stations etc. would simply[1] keep a list of each song they played and periodically handed that list over to the RIAA, who applied a set even percentage and collected corresponding fees to be distributed. It worked well for several decades. In fact, I think that patents should follow a similar technique so that you don't get slammed with surprise royalties.

    [1] With random auditing.
  • strike (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Loconut1389 ( 455297 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @12:17AM (#22302696)
    If only the artists would go on strike like the writers. Maybe we could thin out some of the crap on the radio these days. I hate that most new music makes me love the songs my dad sung to in the car (oldies) and that it makes me not even want to look for the few artists who have really great music.
  • Wrong again (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @12:58AM (#22303000)
    Your quote ripped out that this position is in regard to not downloads, but to internet streaming - as the parent wrote, streaming is internet radio. And streaming audio is not a music sale.

    Re-read the position paper you just quoted - it isn't to clear, but it does differentiate between download sale royalties and a streaming - and how they feel that listening to a song, like on the radio, should be billed out as a complete sale to each and every listener.

    The paper does mention about how some "unfairly" want micropayments for streaming (in case a listener only tunes into 2 seconds of a song on a stream.)

    The author of the position paper you quote wants 16 cents from each person that listens to 1 or more seconds of an internet radio station "airplay" - to be given to the songwriter. And nothing to the performers or others - INSANE!!!!! - and the "music consumer" owns nothing after that 1 second.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @01:13AM (#22303120)
    Okay, so that covers the songwriter. How much does the performer/recording artist get?

    They're not necessarily the same person.
  • You forgot one... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @02:04AM (#22303460) Homepage
    Price fixing [boycott-riaa.com]

    That is the "settlement" that isn't worth a shit...So much for abiding by the law.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @02:12AM (#22303526)
    This post was on the front page of a torrent site:

    The Flashbulb wrote: Hello listener...downloader...pirate...pseudo-criminal... If you can read this, then you've more than likely downloaded this album from a peer to peer network or torrent. You probably expect the rest of this message to tell you that you're hurting musicians and breaking just about every copyright law in the book. Well, it won't tell you that. What I would like to tell you is that my record label understands that a large portion of people pirate music because it is easier than buying it. CDs scratch easily, most pay-per-download sites have poor quality and ****ty DRM protection, and vinyl is near impossible to find or ship without hassle. In many cases I wonder why people buy CDs at all anymore. A few like the tangible artwork, some haven't adapted to MP3s yet, but most do it because they have a profound love for music and want to support the artists making it. Kind of restores your faith in humanity for a moment eh? So, now what? Like the album? About to go "support the artist" on iTunes? Well, don't. Alphabasic is currently in a legal battle against Apple because NONE of our material (Sublight Records included) receives a dime of royalty from the vast amount of sales iTunes has generated using our material. Want to buy a CD just to show your support? If you don't particularly like CDs, don't bother. Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon spike the price so high that their cut is often 8 times higher than the artist's. Besides, most CDs are made out of unrecyclable plastic and leave a nasty footprint in your environment. If you do particularly like CDs, buy them from the label (in our case, alphabasic.com). After manufacturing costs are recuperated, our artists usually receive over 90% of the actual money coming out of your wallet. In addition, all of our physical products are made out of 100% recycled material. Want to show your support? Go here and browse our library of lossless, DRM-free downloads. Already have that? Then feel free to donate whatever you want to your favorite artist. 100% will go directly to them. Hell, you can even donate a penny just to thank the artist. If you really like 'The Flashbulb - Soundtrack To A Vacant Life' and want to show your support without it going to greedy retailers, distributors, and coked-up label reps, then click the button below. http://www.alphabasic.com/index2.htm [alphabasic.com] If you send us your mailing address, Alphabasic may occasionally send you various goodies (overstocks, stickers, even rare CDs) in appreciation and encouragement for your support. Thanks for reading. Who knows if my little business plan here will work to fund new releases, but even failure is better than the crappy label/distributor/retailer system musicians have suffered from for over 50 years. We hope you enjoy the music as much as we do releasing it. Finally, if you plan on sharing this release, please include this file. The only reason it is here is to show the listener where he can support his favorite artists! Benn Jordan CEO - Alphabasic Records
    Even more interesting: it was on the site as a "free leech", meaning it did not count toward your download ratio. There were about 2700 seeds. even if 0nly a tiny percentage send a little donation, the artist will be doing better than through the normal distribution channels, with the added bonus of getting it out to more people, which is what I believe true artists are in it for.
  • by fangorious ( 1024903 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @02:44AM (#22303680)
    Many artists have sued their labels for unpaid royalties. Some have even sued to get their share of p2p lawsuit moneys. It doesn't get widely publicized.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @02:57AM (#22303730)
    What exactly do you think 'subsidized' means? It means, money taken from the government to fund that enterprise. Now, given that the government taking peoples money, dividing it up, and then funding enterprises with it... that's communism in action. I fail to see how shouting subsidized somehow makes any of those less communist?

    A municipality getting state and federal funding amounts to a communism of communisms. A rich municipality ultimately funds a poor one. That's communism.

    That aside, my family unit isn't subsidized but we're a micro-communism. We buy goods collectively. Income comes into the unit, is spent colelctively, and the remainder is allocated through the unit. My wife and I pool our income... if I don't work we live off her income, if I make a huge bonus we both profit. That's communism.
  • by Calinous ( 985536 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @04:23AM (#22304180)
    It's mafia, or Mafia, or if you want MAFIAA. It's not Maffia
          It comes from italian - some kind of revenge cry for the death of someone's daughter (my daughter, ma fia)
  • by Repossessed ( 1117929 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @04:26AM (#22304206)
    Y'know, mentioning Hatch in this context makes me think of something. He gets about 40 grand a year in royalties for his music, is it at all possible for us to find out exactly what percentage he gets? if it's substantally larger than the 13% other songwriters get, or if he lacks the standard loss of production cost (and since his music is orchestral, his production cost must be extreme). Would it be enough to force an ethics investigation if the resulting onformation had enough of a sivk to it? I'm sure the dems would love to tarnish the republican reputation again with scandal this election cycle.

    Anybody out there know the avilability of his sales records? Or the legal possibility of forcing the contract terms out of the RIAA? HE is a Senator after all, transactions like those are supposed to be public.
  • Re:Why the RIAA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:37AM (#22306254) Homepage Journal
    I genuinely believe that geeky kids get more upset these days by having to pay for mp3s than they do if their president lies to them in order to start a war for his self interest.
    get some perspective.

    Well, one perspective is that they differ only in the details. The most famous example of this perspective is Clausewitz's remark that war is just a continuation of diplomacy by other means. Others have observed that the same principle applies in business, where there are various persuasion tactics ranging from misleading advertising, "industry standard" contracts and legal threats to actions like mayhem and murder of competitors. Which are used are determined not by any morality or ethics, but by what the local government permits.

    With both the Bush gang, and the RIAA, the motive behind their actions are essentially the same: power and profit. In both cases, they openly say that they consider themselves just businessmen, trying to maximize their profit. Bush, Cheney et al have done this by fomenting a war, as a way of channeling funding to their crowd's companies such as Haliburton. The RIAA uses shady legal tactics and bribery of politicians to control the distribution of funds away from artists and into their corporate coffers.

    You can obviously argue that wholesale killing of innocent bystanders is something different from suing grannies. But to the top managers of these enterprises, this isn't really their concern. Businessmen have often used tactics like extortion, torture and killing when the legal system permits it. Bush's people are allowed to kill to get their way, so they do that. The RIAA is constrained by government regulation (criminal law) from doing this, but they are allowed to use the legal system as they have been doing, so they do. In each case, they're merely using the most extreme persuasion techniques that the legal system permits them to use. If the RIAA knew they could torture or kill people with impunity, that's what they would be doing.

    See Russia for a nice example of how this works. Russia has been a "free and unregulated market" for over a decade now. It's open knowledge that extortion, torture and murder are now standard business practice in Russia, and the reason is simple: The government has stopped regulating such actions when done by businesses. At the other extreme, business in much of Europe is now suffering from the fact that some of them have actually been prosecuted for bribing politicians. In the US, political bribes are called "campaign contributions", and they're legal. So corporations like the RIAA might not be able to send in thugs to rough up "pirates", but at least they can pay money to politicians to get the laws changed so that more money gets channeled away from the artists and into the corporate coffers. And so far, they haven't been punished for scatter-shot lawsuits, so they use that tactic.

    Actually, of course, there are a lot of politicians and businessmen with functional morals and/or ethics. But we're not talking about that kind of people here; we're talking about big, successful trade organizations and big, successful governments. These are usually not constrained by anything except the punishments they might receive for their actions. And that's really the only thing that explains differences in their tactics.

    (It can be fun to look at "perspectives". ;-)

  • by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars.Traeger@goo ... Ncom minus berry> on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @05:03PM (#22312318) Journal

    'R' is for 'recording'.

    You'll notice it's not the "Songwriting Industry Association of America", nor the "Music Publishing Industry Association of America"?
    Funny thing: the third party in this case (or second if you want to believe TFS) is called National Music Publishers' Association - no artists there either.

    Anyway, an article far less screwed up then TFA (let alone the submission) is here [wired.com].

    Let's look at what the NMPA actually wants: instead of 9.1 cents per song, they want 12.5 cents per song - almost 40% more. Note that they don't want a share (percentage) of the price, they want a lump sum no matter what the song is sold for. Hell, that would even be fine for the RIAA's plans for online music sales - 12.5 cents off of a $2 song is a smaller loss for them than 9.1 cents off of 99 cents. But it also means that any savings between digital distribution vs. physical distribution will not be used to lower the price of the song, but shall go into the coffers of the NMPA.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban