Broadcasters Oppose Net Radio Fees

Big broadcasters don't want their streams taxed off the Net either, it turns out. Here's a progress report on this and other developments in the fight to save Internet broadcasting in the U.S.

The body of this article is still being converted and will be available shortly.

email: doc@ssc.com

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Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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Re: Broadcasters Oppose Net Radio Fees

Anonymous's picture

What I don't get from all this is how the U.S. government can manage to say "If you do this, you have to pay this much." It's one thing to charge a certain amout in tax, or in licensing fees--but one of the principles this country was founded on was the idea of an unlimited right to contract.

In other words, if the netcasters and the artists have an agreement on what will be paid and when, then how can the CARP or any other agency come in and tell them different?

Imagine this scenario: you go to buy a car, but the one you want is suddenly $40,000, when yesterday it was $20,000. The dealer tells you that the DOT (Dept. of Transportation) has ruled that they can't sell that particular car for less than $40,000. Pretty ridiculous, eh? That's what CARP is doing, though.

Yet another case of the federal government overstepping its bounds, and no one telling it to quit.

Re: Broadcasters Oppose Net Radio Fees

Doc's picture

Exactly.

It's a perfect example of regulating a business before it has a chance to establish itself. The difference in this case was that the regulations are so severe that they ammount to outlawing the business, turning the markeplace into a business district so exclusive that nobody can afford to set up shop there.

What really amazes me is the absolute silence of all those talk radio guys who constantly moan about Big Government and Big Regulations. I mean, why isn't Rush on this case? These laws came down from Bill Clinton's friends in Hollywood, fergoshsakes. A bunch of Democrats! Guys who don't do anything unless whole buildings of lawyers get involved! Big-gov lovers who hate free enterprise so much that they believe the only rights worth having are the ones you "clear" (see here and here).

I'm sure its because none of these guys want to bite the hand that milks them.

Re: Broadcasters Oppose Net Radio Fees

brianlane's picture

I think that part of the problem with the lack of outcry is that most people don't know what is happeneing. Thanks to this article I think I have a bit of a better handle on things. If I read this correctly (and I may need to reread it a few times, but its lunch and I have to get back to work) these are stations that are already licensing the contenct and paying the talent for conventional over-the airwaves broadcasts, right?

If they suddenly had an increase in conventional listenership would they be charged more for the content they are broadcasting? If not then the addition of an internet stream shouldn't cost them any extra licensing fees.

But how does this effect internet only stations? They don't pay any conventional licensing fees, so they should be charged something for what they use. How does this scenario fit into things?

Brian

Re: Broadcasters Oppose Net Radio Fees

Doc's picture

I should have included links to earlier stories on the subject. Here's a list, with the most recent stories at the top:

  • Why are so many Internet radio stations still on the air?
  • CARP Put to Death, but DMCA Still Sleeping
  • Silent Mayday
  • Saving Cyberspace
  • Finishing the Third Wave
  • Arbitron Throws the Book at CARP
  • A Tale of Three Cultures
  • Bizarre vs. Bazaar
  • The Choice
  • Run Streaming
  • The Promise of Radio Paradise: An Open-Source Challenge to Commercial Radio

    Licensed radio stations have neverbeen required to pay "performance" fees to artists. For many years they have paid small fees to BMI and ASCAP for the right to use compositions. That money is supposed to go to composers.

    When the DMCA was being written, the dot-com madness was getting into full swing. Hollywood had lawmakers fearing the possibility that unlicensed Internet broadcasters could stream "perfect" copies of CDs to everybody, and decided to characterize those streams as "performances" for which charges would be made by the stations to the listeners. Lawmakers agreed. The DMCA passed unanimously.

    It's a ludicrous Act that got railroaded through, and once it was in place the RIAA stepped in and engineered the rest of the process. Webcasters, small and without any political clout, got run over.

    You can bet that if similar fees were proposed for over-the-air radio by the Copyright Office, the NAB would have raised a stink to the heavens. Actually, that's what they want to do now that they understand that these fees apply to them as well as to the little cloutless webcasters. But they know the cause is fairly lost, which is why they've issued this motion for a "partial stay."

    And, quite honestly, most of over-the-air broadcasters still don't understand the Net or care much about it. They just don't want to be charged for having sent streams on it over the last few years.

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