Dysmey Post Archive > Pages for 2007 > Mid-April 2007 Edition

Mid-April 2007 Edition

After the refusal of the Copyright Royalty Board to reconsider its decision to smack it to all Internet radio broadcasters, including the smaller ones, I decided to act by sending the following to my representatives in Congress. This is the first time I have ever felt compelled to do this.

It is bad enough that the Internet is polluted by the general public, the corporations they patronize, and the suburban teenage (in mind if not in body) crackers who plague the Internet with spam, viruses, worms, and perverse Web sites. Now there is an open front to take one of the few good aspects of the Internet away in the form of royalties as extortionate as the legal fees the RIAA demands from its victims. Well, folks, it is time to act.

There is a ready-made Internet petition to Congress for saving Internet radio. But, apart from the danger of cross-site scripting contained in the petition, I did not think my opinion is worth much when expressed in a globular mass. Besides, the type of people who represent my part of the state are the elder statesmen variety who respond better to a written letter than to e-mail. So I wrote a letter to my State's two senators and to my representative.

I have become a fan of Internet radio, having found it a refreshing alternative to a commercial terrestrial radio that has become so stale, and its music so hiked up in tempo, that I have not voluntarily listened to it in years.

Now I find to my dismay that the Copyright Royalty Board has not only voted to raise music royalty fees by 300-1200 percent, but that it has refused to reconsider their original vote. For most Web broadcasters the new royalties exceed their revenue, compiling them to cease broadcasting over the Web to avoid bankruptcy.

The party that has persuaded the Copyright Royalty Board to make this decision seems to believe that commercials will make up for lost revenue. This does not seem to realize that people listen to Internet music in part to avoid commercials. For it is the financial pressures from businesses that buy commercials that have ultimately made commercial terrestrial radio so bland.

Apart from the grave effect on Internet radio, the new fee structure will also put serious strain on National Public Radio and its network of local public stations like Indiana Public Radio. This in turn will compel them to cut back on news and educational programs, which would be a serious hit to east central Indiana, which needs any form of assistance to its fragile economy.

I respectfully request that Congress look into this matter and take action to prevent it. Please be made aware of the lack of time involved, as the new royalty rates are retroactive to January 1, 2006 so they will cause immediate bankruptcies of Web broadcasters if they become effective for even one day.

Thank you for your attention.

It may well be a form letter. But it is my form letter. And there is a lot more I did not add (like the flight of Internet radio overseas if the rates stick, and the need to preserve Internet radio to compensate for the failures of the 1996 Telecommunications Act) because I wanted to keep the content down to one page. But the intent is clear: Internet radio in its present form must be preserved, and it will perish unless the new rate structure is struck down.

This weekend I did some cleaning in my room, throwing out a lot of outdated stuff … and some computer magazines that I do not want, did not subscribe to, but am getting anyway because I am now a "professional" at Ball State. (The only magazine I did subscribe to, Software Development, stopped coming months ago even though I am sure that I did renew the subscription.) The bloody irony of all this is that the magazine that is useful to my job, MacWorld, is the one that I am paying for out of my own pocket!

The one paper I not only did not throw away but personally laminated for posterity is the one labeled Certificate of Appointment — Public Library Board Member. It is the record of my first real civic duty to my home town. (Paying taxes and voting do not really count, and I have never served on a jury.) Mind you, being the secretary to the board of a tiny library of the Hoosier equivalent to a European village does not make me brim over with political power; but it is a civic duty and I am proud to serve in the only capacity that fits my interests and for which I have some competency. Let's face it, folks: I am not likely to find myself in an elected position at any time in my life.

Copyright © 2007 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 17 April 2007.