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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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Monthly Archives

April 30, 2007

Will Congress Rescue Internet Radio?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Proposed legislation - the Internet Radio Equality Act - would roll back the Copyright Board's regressive new fee structure, giving us back the flat-fee revenue-based method that has let the industry grow this far. The proposal is for a flat 7.5% of revenue through 2010.

The bill appears to be largely the result of a successful Internet campaign that, according to the CNN story linked above, has generated over 400,000 emailed complaints to Congress about the new fees. That's a good number both in terms of its impact on this discussion and in terms of showing that Internet radio is developing a significant, motivated, audience.

Unfortunately, the bill doesn't solve anything in the immediate future. Even if it passes and is signed quickly its implementation is still months away. Something like a court order would be needed to stay the implementation of the new CRB fees in about two weeks, an event that will likely cause most non-big-commercial Web radio to go dark, even if only for a while. That could be significantly harmful and might be enough to kill much of the alternative streaming community in the US regardless of what Congress does.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations

April 27, 2007

Ding Dong The Lich Is Dead

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Sorry if that was too obvious a headline, but I really couldn't resist.

Jack "Boston Strangler" Valenti, the man most visibly responsible for the MPAA's frenetic attempts to kill every new technology they couldn't control, has died. He'll be lauded for his devotion to the business end of movies, and remembered by some as the man who drove the Puritan movie-rating system.

But Copyfighters will probably remember him best for his dogged refusal to understand that new media could be made part of new business models. Famously, he testified before Congress that the new recording technology VCR would do to movies what the Boston Strangler did to women. Of course today we know that movies make more money from video (DVD) distribution than they do in theaters.

There are a number of obituaries appearing and, in the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead, most laud his accomplishments. I can't help hoping, though, that the passing of the old guard will open up the possibility of a newer and more cooperative relationship emerging.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Interesting People

April 17, 2007

No, Mr Web Radio. I Expect You To DIE!

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The Copyright Review Board has affirmed its decision to kill Web radio by imposing retroactive per-song/per-station fees, regardless of whether fee amounts have any relationship to station revenues. The CRB refused to review its earlier decision, and it's not clear whether there's any course of appeal. Nominally, NPR could carry its campaign to CAFC, but that's a slim hope.

Really what needs to happen is that Congress needs to intervene. In an interesting twist, writes Olga Kharif for Businessweek's Tech Beat, the CRB ruling is drawn quite broadly, meaning that for the first time fees will apply to "any company broadcasting music over cellular networks." Kharif seems to think that the big cell providers will not want the Cartel chewing away at their profit margins and thus will move Congress to act. Personally, I think they'll just pass the costs on to consumers and call it a day.

Interestingly, this is a US-based decision. Web radio elsewhere in the world can continue to thrive. It's unclear to me whether those non-US stations would be required to block me if I tried to tune in from a US-located IP address.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies