September 30, 2013

Performance Royalties for Performers on the Radio [8:56 pm]

Congressman Proposes New Rules for Music Royalties [pdf]

On Monday, Representative Melvin L. Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, introduced the Free Market Royalty Act, a bill that would let record companies and performing artists collect royalties when their songs are played on the radio. It would also change the licensing process for both broadcast radio and online services that approximate radio, like Pandora, establishing a market for these services to negotiate rates with the rights holders.

Broadcasters in the United States pay only songwriters and music publishers; for nearly a century, they have argued that the promotional value an artist receives from having a song played on the radio is remuneration enough. Repeated efforts by the music industry have failed to establish such a royalty on the radio, and while laws in the 1990s created it online, Web services complain that they have been burdened with a cost not shared by terrestrial radio.

Mr. Watt’s bill would establish a performance right for AM and FM radio. In an ambitious move, it would also eliminate the compulsory licensing process that lets services like Pandora and Sirius XM circumvent labels by paying a rate set by federal statute. Instead, under the system proposed by Mr. Watt’s bill, radio and online outlets alike would have to negotiate for rights through a market administered by SoundExchange, a nonprofit agency, giving labels and artists the right of refusal.

[...] The National Association of Broadcasters, the radio industry’s lobbying outlet, reiterated its longstanding opposition, calling the royalty a “performance tax” and saying that 183 members of Congress had supported its preferred bill, the Local Radio Freedom Act [H.CON.RES.16], a nonbinding resolution against “any new performance fee, tax, royalty or other charge” on radio stations.

Of course, this is more important than a continuing resolution, but it’s always interesting to see when these things turn up. I’d give the Thomas link to the text of the bill, but I doubt it’ll be posted before the government shuts down tonight at 12:01.

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September 23, 2013

Funny [3:49 pm]

If it weren’t so sad: In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links That Go Nowhere [pdf]

Supreme Court opinions have come down with a bad case of link rot. According to a new study, 49 percent of the hyperlinks in Supreme Court decisions no longer work.

[...]

Hyperlinks are a huge and welcome convenience, of course, said Jonathan Zittrain, who teaches law and computer science at Harvard and who prepared the study with Kendra Albert, a law student there. “Things are readily accessible,” he said, “until they aren’t.”

What is lost, Professor Zittrain said, can be crucial. “Often the footnotes and citations,” he said, “are where the action is.”

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September 5, 2013

Well, Of Course [6:25 pm]

Are you really surprised? It is their mission, after all. N.S.A. Foils Much Internet Encryption [pdf]

The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.

Many users assume — or have been assured by Internet companies — that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the N.S.A. wants to keep it that way. The agency treats its recent successes in deciphering protected information as among its most closely guarded secrets, restricted to those cleared for a highly classified program code-named Bullrun, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

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