L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

30 April 2007 Blog Home : April 2007 : Permalink

This is a first

I'm going to be linking approvingly to a post by the moonbats at DailyKos. The post is about the RI Ass A and its internet radio smackdown:

There has been an understandable public outcry against the RIAA’s attempts to more than triple the sound recording copyright royalties on Internet radio. (See Save Internet Radio from Corporate Money Grab) One solution proposed by Webcasters is to just not play RIAA-member songs under the assumption that then they don’t have to pay the royalty to the RIAA’s collection body, SoundExchange; Webcasters would then just pay the independent artist the royalty.

This sounds fair and just because it is. However, the RIAA is not about being fair and just. The game is rigged and the RIAA has rigged it in their favor. The strategy of playing only non-RIAA songs won't work though because the RIAA has secured the right to collect royalties on all songs regardless of who controls the copyright. RIAA operates under the assumption that they will collect the royalties for the "sound recording copyright" and that the artists who own their own copyright will go to SoundExchange to collect at a later date.

Look at the information on SoundExchange.com (RIAA created SoundExchange) and see how it works. The RIAA has secured legal authority to administer a compulsory license that covers all recorded music.

There is detail below this excerpt but that is the basic claim and from the RI Ass A's SoundExchange site it appears to be true. The RI Ass A have managed to get themselves into a position where they can legally set a royalty rate and collect royalties on all music played on the Internet in the USA. Artists and reconrd labels are neither permitted to opt out of this scheme nor cut side deals with Internet radio stations and this applies no matter whether the artist/label is a member of the RIAA or not.

This is the sort of monopolistic rent seeking behaviour that is the worst part of the copyright laws as they currently stand and seems like an excellent reason for copyright reform to remove these abusinve parasites. I am not clear how exactly the process to change things works but it seems clear to me that this deal is a major infringement on the rights of individual copyright owners to negotiate contracts and ought therefore to be investigated and struck down by some anti-trust body in the USA and/or by some lawsuit claimng infringement of some basic rights to negotiate contracts oneself that gets to the supreme court. Of course that is the slow legal way to do things, the faster way would be for the US Congress to pass a law (and I would think the law need be no more than 5 lines long) stating that no third party may set a license rate and that copyright owners (or their agents blah blah blah) are entitled to set rates of zero for some uses of their work if they so wish.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin