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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

RIAA Takes Satire In "The Onion" As A Suggestion!

(Crossposted at DailyKos)

Back in 2002, The Onion suggested that the RIAA (the trade organization for the music recording industry) might take their money-grubbing ways to the extreme, and try to hit up radio stations for royalties they've never legally been able to collect.

(Why is it such an outrageous idea that the Onion ran with it as satire? Because it's the logical equivalent of Volkswagen charging ABC to air its commercials. Airplay generates sales, which is why so many RIAA members and radio stations got their hands caught in the cookie jar in the most recent round of payola scandals.)

Oddly, ran a link to The Onion's article earlier today, and I suspected they had a reason...and indeed they did.

The followup showed up later in the day...

The RIAA actually wants to do what The Onion said they'd do: charge radio stations to play their music. Remember, this isn't the songwriting royalty that compensates songwriters for the use of their work, which radio and webcasters pay today; this is the one for the recording, and it's a royalty that goes straight to the owner of the recorded work - that is, the record companies. Who already make money from the sales of said work....sales that are driven by airplay.

Unfortunately, it's one of our own wrapped up in this: Rep. Howard Berman, who seems utterly beholden to media companies' interests in the areas of copyright and intellectual property law; the Peer-To-Peer Piracy prevention Act is his baby, and though his summary calls it benign, appears to have some problems with it.

My bias here is that I'm a webcaster already smarting under the fees the RIAA's trying to ram through (even to the point of collecting these royalties for artists they have no association with.) While I get the sneaking suspicion that over-the-air radio will somehow have to "pay" fees such that they wind up paying far less than I do, and might even be a willing victim here because the fees they'll have to pay will be minor for a commercial cooperation (as opposed to the death sentence they represent for most Internet radio stations) I still have common cause with them here. I would suggest that the way things work today is the way they should work going forward - no fees for what is essentially free advertising.

So, a few things: firstly, I'm tired of any politician who puts the interests of any industry over the interests of the general populace. I suspect Berman feels that what's good for Big Media is good for his district (since it is, of course, L.A.) But Big Media's record in terms of the general public's rights is not good, and I wish Berman could come to terms with that. He might be driven by pure altruism here, but I suspect we here at DKos know we can't trust big media, so I'm honestly interested in hearing what any primary challenger that comes up against him has to say on this subject.

Secondly, someone, somewhere, soon, needs to make the RIAA and their cronies in Big Media stop now. While I don't think it'll get quite to the point where you'll have to toss a nickel in a convenient receptacle every time you hum a tune, I don't for a second believe someone at the RIAA hasn't though up a business case for such a thing.


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