Monday, March 05, 2007

Crippling copyright law

Alarming industry development in the U.S. that has its parallel up here. I first learned about it in this article :

The Copyright Royalty Board on Friday issued a decision that ... Internet radio stations must pay each time a single listener hears a song. In doing so, the board rejected the pleas of Internet radio providers that sought royalty rates based on a percentage of revenue. ...

The RIAA is very much threatened by internet radio and its long-tail economic model so it is desperately trying to protect its turf. (The Copyright Royalty Board is a creation of the RIAA, of course.)

If life were fair, rather than strengthen their cultural monopoly, this new law would backfire and reduce their stranglehold on the pop music industry.

It's more likely, however, that this is just the first of many steps for the North American oligarchs to control the internet. And that of course would make life more difficult for the little guys, as the article points out:

Attorney Dave Oxenford, who represents several webcasters involved in the case, [says], "This decision just makes it that much harder for people to make any money streaming. Some of the big broadcasters may reconsider their streaming operations." ...

And, surprise surprise, Canada is fast following suit. SOCAN wants to levy a tariff for internet radio feeds, which means many smaller stations will just discontinue their internet feeds to avoid the crippling costs. And that of course, will affect every Ukrainian (and other ethnic) radio program that has been available on the internet.

UVic's independent newspaper reports in this article that:

The tariff was first filed with the Copyright Board of Canada in 1996 and filed again in 1997 with minor changes. It was reviewed by the Copyright Board in 1999. The Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Appeal asked for changes to be made in 2004. Subsequently, SOCAN filed again in 2006 with the changes in place.

The hearing takes place on April 17, 2007 in Ottawa.

How Orwellian our world has become, when a law (copyright) originally intended to protect artists is now being used against the listening public to protect the interests of oligarchs.

Maybe it's time for the listening public to start standing up for its rights.

Listeners of the world, unite! Let's fight back!

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