Delays in Testimony Caused by Buffering
Following a recommendation from the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel that would require Webcasters to pay 0.14 cents per listener per song and broadcasters half as much for webstreams, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the matter.

At yesterday’s hearing, and it’s not a Judiciary Committee hearing without her, the RIAA’s Hilary Rosen said that the business supports Webcasting, but that record companies and artists should be compensated for airplay. Said Rosen: “We ferverently believe…that Webcasters can succeed while compensating the creators of the sound recordings upon which they have built their business. It is obvious that without sound recordings there would be no Webcasting business. It is equally obvious to artists and record companies that Webcasters were required to pay other costs from day one of their business: their rent, their bandwidth, their Webmasters, their porn site subscriptions…”

Webcasters, of course disagreed with Rosen, because it’s not a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing without someone disagreeing with her, saying that they were fine with paying royalties, but that the proposed fees would shut many of them down. Instead, the Webcasters proposed paying a percentage of revenue in royalties.

Said Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association: “No one, neither the creators nor the Webcasters, benefits from artificially inflated rates that only a few Webcasters can afford.”

Arbitron Vice President Bill Rose contrasted the differences between radio royalties and the proposed Webcast rates, noting that in radio, broadcasters pay licensing fees to composers, not artists and labels. “As an example, if one of the top-rated radio stations in New York rebroadcast its programming online and had the same audience on the Internet as it does over the air, that station would pay approximately $15 million per year in digital-rights fees.”

Singin’ Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that he was preparing legislation that would address Webcast royalties and encourage online music services by giving them access to out of print music. Can’t wait to read that.

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that he hasn’t made up his mind yet. “If I had the power right now to come up with a solution, I’m not sure what that solution would be.” Yup, that’s your tax dollars at work.

Since CARP’s recommendation came down, small Webcasters have publicly proclaimed that the proposed rates will force most of them out of business. They organized a day of silence on May 1, among other protests. (hitsdailydouble.com, 5/10)

On May 21, the U.S. Copyright Office will vote on the rates. Must…stay…awake…