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Radio Fairness Act, RIAA Under Attack, Strikes Back, The Lost Boys

Commentary by David Nevue - The Music Biz Academy - 08/17/2002

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First of all, I'd like to point out a great and easy way for you, as an independent musician, to take part in saving Internet radio. It's called the Internet Radio Fairness Act, a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives that gives small webcasters a chance to survive the newly imposed webcasting rates. The bill exempts small webcasters (those that generate under six million dollars in gross revenue) from the new fees. The legislation does not seek to eliminate royalties paid to artists by Internet radio stations, it only attempts to ensurethat fair and reasonable royalty rates are set to allow Internet radio stations to survive. It will take you two minutes to fill out the form and email it (via efax) to your state representative. It's never been so easy to get involved! See
http://www.voiceofwebcasters.org for more information.

In some of the most ironic news from the last two weeks, there was a temporary take over of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) web site by hackers. The RIAA, who is leading the charge against illegal file sharing and piracy rampant on the Internet, must have been quite embarrassed to find their web site defaced in such a subtle, yet humorous manner. The Intruders posted a new index page on the RIAA site offering a link to free music downloads with a note that "Piracy can be beneficial to the music industry." There was also a link to "find information on giant monkeys." For those of you who are curious, you can see a full-size image of the hacked index page at
http://minordamage.com/riaa_hack.jpg .

The RIAA is taking a lot of heat these days, and not only because of the somewhat overstated perception that they are big bad bullies taking all the fun out of free music on the Internet. Recently, the RIAA sent a subpoena ordering Verizon to turn over information about one of its subscribers, an individual the RIAA wants to sue for illegally trading hundreds of songs over the Internet. Verizon has refused to comply, and a dozen consumer groups including Consumer Alert, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and National Consumers League have filed a brief in federal court arguing that the RIAA's request is unconstitutional, and that the basis of their subpoena violates Americans' right to be anonymous online. The result of this very well-publicized fight is a huge publicity win for Verizon, who have positioned themselves as a strong 'defender of consumer privacy,' while the RIAA, of course, is made once again to look like a tyrant.

The RIAA did get a big win, however, at least from a financialstandpoint. A jury in Los Angeles awarded the RIAA $136 million in damages against a California CD manufacturing plant for copyright infringement. It is one of the largest judgments ever rendered in a copyright case. I guess if you have this kind of money, who needs friends?

We live in very interesting times.

Finally, in a must-read article which should once again make you ask yourself the question 'Do I really want a major label deal?,' the New York Times does an
in-depth analysis of how the Backstreet Boys, who have sold more than 65 million albums around the world, lost control of their careers and find themselves to be yesterday's news. Read it and marvel at the workings of the music biz machine.







Until next time,

David Nevue
Editor, The Music Biz Academy


David Nevue is the founder of The Music Biz Academy. He is also a professional pianist, recording artist, full-time Internet musician, and author of the book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet."

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