03/06/02 - 01:56:10
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I really like your website. I've been a fan since the early JA days, and just picked a copy of the CD Blows Against the Empire, which I originally had on vinyl years ago when it first came out. The reason I'm posting here is to plead my case for a cause that I believe in. If you can spare a few minutes to read this post and hear me out, I'd appreciate it.|
I'm a fan of alternative, independent out-of-the mainstream type music, the kinda stuff they don't play on commercial radio because the big corporations can't make enough money on it. The only place to hear this music other than on some college stations, is on independent Internet radio stations.
But recent actions by the RIAA may soon put an end to the small independent webcasters. Bill Goldsmith, the guy who runs Radio Paradise, a listener supported independent station that I listen to, wrote up a letter (attached below) explaining the dilemma. He's asked his listeners to help spread the word to anyone who might be interested and able to help in the cause of keeping these little stations going.
If after reading this you might want to help, or would just like more info on this, Bill's the man to contact. His e-mail address is at the end of his message below. Or you can check out the station's site and listen in at http://www.radioparadise.com/
Thanks for your time,
The Death of Web Radio?
The US Copyright Office is in the final stages of approving a fee structure for Internet radio stations that could easily shut down many of the Internet's most-listened-to & most loved stations.
The fees in question are royalties to the sound recording copyright owner - which have never been paid by broadcast radio, but are due in the case of digital transmissions under the terms of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The stations in jeopardy are those run by individuals or small business, rather than large corporate interests.
Unfortunately, the CARP (Copyright Arbitration Royalty Proceeding) that evaluated this issue has come up with a set of recommendations that are tailored to a marketplace that never came to be: one dominated by large webcast operations generating huge profits derived from advertising revenue. Instead, in 2002 we find that those revenue projections were (in retrospect) irrationally exuberant, and most of the large webcast firms are out of business. Webcasting is dominated instead by stations like ours: with rapidly growing, passionately enthusiastic audiences but very little revenue, supported in great part out of the owners' pockets and through listener contributions.
We webcasters realize that we can't expect the free ride that broadcasters enjoy on the issue of sound recording copyright royalties. We are willing to pay the royalties, particularly when they actually benefit the artists rather than the record labels they are beholden to. However, there's a big problem with the existing proposal. In most cases such royalties are based on a share of revenue. This method has worked very well for decades in the collection of the songwriters' royalties that are paid by both broadcasters & webcasters, as well as bars, restaurants, background music services, and others. The CARP recommendation, however, requires a per-use royalty. Each time a song is played, the station must pay $0.0014 for each listener that is tuned in.
The RIAA (the trade organization that represents record companies) proposed that webcasters pay either a rather large share of revenue (15%) or a per-listen fee. DiMA (which represented the large webcast operations) attempted to protect the interests of its members (who, remember, expected to soon be generating huge profits from their webcasts) by recommending that the arbitration panel reject the revenue share method in favor of a much smaller per-listen fee. Since both parties were asking for a per-listen fee, naturally that's what the panel ended up recommendation- one midway between the figures suggested by DiMA & the RIAA.
This might be fair if it were being applied to large webcasting corporations whose stations were loaded down with lots of expensive ads. But, given the state of webcasting today, the highest fees would be owed by stations like ours that are in no position to pay them. We would be required to cease operation - depriving our listeners of a source of great enjoyment, depriving station operators of the opportunity to grow our stations into profitability, and depriving the artists of the potential revenue that would flow from our success.
The loss of our stations would serve the interests of no one. Due to the nature of the proceeding, we are not allowed to file comments with the arbitration panel. Therefore we are appealing directly to the public, through the press. We invite anyone not familiar with the stations in question to go to the station directory at www.shoutcast.com and sample the programming from stations like Digitally Imported, Radio Paradise, WOLF-FM, Groove Salad, Mostly Classical, KPIG, Smoothjazz.com, and thousands of others. Nearly all of these stations would be forced to cease operation if this ruling is adopted. All of the station operators are hoping that a way can be found for reason and fairness to prevail.
Bill Goldsmith (RadioParadise, KPIG) - email@example.com
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