Internet radio firms say royalties limiting choicesLo stesso bilancio lo troviamo, in forma più approfondita, sulla Radio and Internet Newsletter di Kurt Hanson, mentre il Houston Chronicle pubblica un editoriale che invoca una legge che cambi la situazione delle royalties riguardanti la musica trasmessa via etere. Oggi negli USA i diritti vanno agli autori dei brani e agli editori, non ai musicisti che li eseguono e questo secondo il Chronicle deve cambiare.
By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff | March 14, 2008
For Barry Cedergren, the decision to stop broadcasting nightclub music over the Internet was a matter of simple arithmetic. Much as he enjoyed playing music online, a big increase in music performance royalties made it too expensive for him to continue operating Mobile Beat Radio.
"It was going to cost us tens and tens of thousands of dollars just in fees to play this music," he said. Cedergren launched Mobile Beat Radio from his home city of Minneapolis in January 2007, two months before a panel of federal judges approved a big increase in the performance royalty paid by Internet broadcasters every time they stream a song, prompting him to immediately shut down his site.
Cedergren's story is the nightmare scenario painted by many Internet radio companies who have claimed that the royalty hike would kill online broadcasting in its cradle. In fact, Internet radio is far from dead. Online broadcasters like Pandora and Live365 still serve millions of listeners. But the higher rates have driven away many small online broadcasters who say they can't afford to stay in business. And even industry leader Pandora says it's in trouble. "We're at the very end of our tether," founder Tim Westergren said. "There's a very good chance that we will shut down."
Critics of the royalty system say the result is decreasing musical diversity on the Internet. They warn of an online music industry dominated by the same giant media companies that presently dominate traditional radio broadcasting. And they point to CBS Broadcasting Inc.'s recent takeover of the Internet radio operations of Time Warner Inc.'s AOL as a harbinger of an Internet radio market rendered bland and predictable.
For much of the past century, American musicians have been denied the right to get paid for their work when it is used to generate audiences and profits for radio station owners. Songwriters and music publishers receive royalties, but the performers who bring the music to life have been unfairly excluded.
While U.S. radio broadcasters raked in more than $20 billion in 2006 for media conglomerates, the industry's representatives claim closing the royalty loophole would constitute an onerous tax on the industry.
The United States is the only developed Western nation that does not allow its musicians to collect payments for recordings played over the radio airwaves. That puts it in the unsavory company of culturally authoritarian nations, including China, North Korea and Iran.