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IRFA on Capitol Hill

CROSSING THE STREAMS: The Internet Radio Fairness Act, supported by Pandora, Clear Channel and a coterie of others in the streaming biz, was the subject of hearings today before the House Judiciary Subcommittee of the U.S. Congress. “The current rate-setting structure is a clear case of discrimination against the Internet and innovative services,” Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy testified, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “This lack of a level playing field is fundamentally unfair and indefensible.” But opponents of lower rates (including labels, many artists and SoundExchange) argue that the problem isn't that Pandora pays too much but that others pay too little. Some IRFA critics went so far as to say Pandora simply needs to (in the words of economist Dr. Jeffrey Eisenach) "sell more ads" if it wants to improve its bottom line.  IRFA "would cut royalties and deprive artists of the fair-market value of their work,” John Conyers of Michigan (the senior Democrat on the committee) proclaimed, adding that for many aritsts, “this is their only compensation. They depend on royalties and their careers aren’t always that long, either.” (11/28p)

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