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"We think the [existing] statute’s pretty clear."
—Steven Marks, RIAA Sr. VP
WEBCASTERS ASK FOR BLANKET,
GET COLD SHOULDER FROM RIAA
Will Fed Grant Radio-Type Licenses For Net Concerts?
According to a Wall Street Journal story, a group of Internet companies have filed a petition with the U.S. Copyright Office requesting a blanket compulsory license for music Webcasts.

The article neglected to name any of the companies, who filed collectively through D.C.-based trade organ the Digital Media Association (DiMA), though DiMA's site lists Spinner.com, Live365.com, Radiowave.comand other Netcasters among its members.

In any event, the petition asks that the government grant a compulsory license, which would allow Netcasters to pay a single royalty (like the one paid by radio stations) for all music played. The catch, of course, is that there is an interactive component to most digitally transmitted music.

That's where the RIAA draws the line, at least for now. "We think the [existing] statute's pretty clear," the organization's Sr. VP Steven Marks told the WSJ.

DiMA's Jonathan Potter contended that consumer participation in Webcasts—such as the ability to skip songs—doesn't qualify as interactivity and is, in any event, too limited to justify individual licensing.

"We are seeking two simple things: clarity and equity," Potter noted in a release from the group. "Everyone benefits from the new technologies of Internet-based programming—the industry, the artist, and the consumer. We believe these new offerings should not be restricted by onerous licensing standards."

"Although we think the law is clear," Potter goes on, "the RIAA's position has necessitated that we take this action in order to resolve the issue and allow responsible players to continue to innovate and serve consumers, artists and the industry. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Senators to grease—er, educate."

DiMA is concurrently fighting (in conjunction with the National Association of Broadcasters) attempts by the RIAA to levy similar royalty fees for Internet simulcasts of terrestrial radio stations.

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Protest songs that sound like now.
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