NPR Asks For Help Against The RIAA

NPR is asking for your help. They’re asking that you take a moment from your day to contact your Congressperson and “Ask them to co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act which was introduced in the House (H.R. 2060) by Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL) and in the Senate (S.1353) by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) to save public radio webcasting.”

As you all well know, the Copyright Royalty Board under the influence of SoundExchange (which represents members of the RIAA, but is separate from them, in much the same way that your remote is separate from your TV,) have raised royalty rates in an admitted attempt to drive small webcasters out of business. John Simson, the Executive Director of Sound Exchange, told the Washington Post:

“Is 10,000 stations the right number?” asks Simson of SoundExchange, which sought the higher royalties. “Does having so many Web stations disperse the market so much that it hurts the artist? What’s the right number of stations? Is it 5,000? Is it less? Are artists better off having hundreds of listeners on lots of little stations, or thousands of listeners on larger stations?”

NPR has found itself caught in the SoundExchange web, their motion for rehearing was denied on the basis that they didn’t present enough new evidence. The last resort is Congressional intervention. So, will you help NPR? Or will you not? —MEGHANN MARCO

Tell Them Public Matters [NPR]

PREVIOUSLY: RIAA 1, NPR 0: Copyright Royalty Board Denies Motion For Rehearing
NPR Bites Back: Files Motion Against RIAA Internet Rate Increase


Edit Your Comment

  1. bluemeep says:

    I wrote to my representative’s office a week or two ago about the matter, so hopefully I’ve officially Helped in some manner.

  2. crayonshinobi says:

    A station that I listen to quite a bit, is looking for the same assistance. Apparently, this new law the RIAA wants will not only put internet radio out of business, but make them owe these new fees retroactively once the bill passes…

    It’s insipid, and yet another obvious attempt by the RIAA to remove a service to music customers in favor of driving their own selfish needs for additional revenue streams.

    We can’t call for the simple dissolution of the RIAA anymore, we need to nuke them from orbit…it’s the only way to be sure.

  3. danieldavis says:

    Perhaps this is the beginning of the rebellion. Lets all tell the RIAA to shove off together.

  4. CRSpartan01 says:

    I know, let’s force them into irrelevancy and starve them of cash! We could invent a network that divides MP3s into tiny chunks so that people all around the world could have unfettered and free access to music without feeding the machine that tries to eat its own customers.

    Oh wait…

  5. eldergias says:

    Man, it seems really easy to beat the RIAA. If everyone knew about their evil and would just refuse to buy any new music (CD or download), go to any concerts (they probably get some money from that too), and do not subscribe to XMRadio. Only buy music from underground self made bands, and listen to the music on the regular radio. If you are really die-hard about it, get a digital recorder for your regular radio and record your favorite stations to get your favorite songs. This method is technically illegal, just as tape recording TV shows with your VCR is illegal, but if you honestly think that recording music off of a radio because you need to pay for the right to listen to it in the future or else you are deplorable, then shouldn’t people with perfect audio memory (these people do exist) pay whenever they listen to a song in their own head? There are no words for how retarded a world that would be.

    I haven’t bought a music CD in 5 years, and until I find an underground band I like or the RIAA is dead or nor longer evil, I’ll listen to my radio and the music I have already acquired. Also, I’m not doing any illegal downloading, not because I think its wrong (I don’t have a problem with it, but that is a whole other conversation), but because I would hate to get sued, and if I lost (I sure as hell would fight it) my money would go to the RIAAs profit.

    No company can survive if no one gives them money, the company will shrivel and die, and a new way of doing business will emerge in it’s previous partners. Let the RIAA die, so that other companies realize how much those business practices suck. (Also, if you are in the position to hire people, never hire anyone who was a higher up at the RIAA. Punish them for working for a company of pure evil).

  6. Buran says:

    Strange — while I still sent the letter that the linked-to page asks me to send, it was a “don’t cut funds for public broadcasting” letter, not something about the ridiculous net-broadcasting fees that NPR is also fighting.

    I do in fact love NPR and PBS and I’m a die-hard documentary addict and listen to NPR when I listen to radio in my car (and both of these were mentioned in the letter) so both issues are important to me.

    Is this the wrong link?

  7. mac-phisto says:

    @eldergias: “regular” radio pays royalties too, so you would still be supporting the industry.

    also, it’s not illegal to tape radio broadcasts. the broadcasts are considered within the public domain, not to mention the companies that produce those tapes you’re buying pay a portion of their sale price to the recording industry. same goes with cd-rs (as long as you are using the ones that say “music” – if they don’t, then you’re breaking the law)

    tv shows & the commercials that pay for them occasionally pay for the right to use songs from the recording industry, so you need to turn off the tv (& stop going to the movies while you’re at it).

    oh, & video games license music, so you have to stop playing those.

    retailers, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, etc. contract music thru companies such as muzak, xm & sirius, which in turn pay royalties to the music industry, so you can’t go to any of those places anymore.

    even those indie bands most likely paid some denomination to the industry in their efforts to produce & record music.

    stop kidding yourself – paying the recording industry (either directly or indirectly) is unavoidable. they have permeated virtually every aspect of your life.

  8. nick says:

    Just wrote to my California representatives… what would I do without NPR on KCRW? Listen to local news?!

    That’s crazy talk!

  9. eldergias says:


    1) From what I understand, “regular” radio does not pay its royalties to the RIAA, but rather to the individual labels of of the music that it plays. The individual labels are part of the RIAA, but there is a massive difference between the RIAA getting money and the companies that are members getting money. If the members no longer get more revenue out of being an RIAA member than then pay into the RIAA, they will not remain members.

    2) You are correct, I mis-spoke. Recording from television and radio is not illegal, it is possibly copyright violation. You might have read about (or lived through) the 1980’s lawsuit Sony v. Universal City Records before the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that it was legal for people to own VCRs, but they did not make any ruling on the possible copyright violations that could ensue, probably because they would be impossible to enforce.

    3) I do not believe that companies that make/sell tapes/CD-Rs have to give portions of sales to the RIAA. I do believe that some of them CHOOSE to pay the RIAA for the right to but the RIAA logo on their media. Until I see some plausible evidence to the contrary there is no reason for me to think otherwise, this is the first time I have ever heard of this.

    4) Again, paying money to a record label is different than to the RIAA. Advertising firms, video game companies, retailers, supermarkets, ect. would pay to the record label. Further, I question whether retailers, supermarkets, restaurants even do pay for the right to play the songs at all, considering that they are not making any profit from playing the music (you may say that sales would go down if they didn’t play music, and that may be true, but the are not making profit from playing the music, they make their profit form the sale of their goods). If I buy a CD and play in at a party or in public on a boom box, I am not required to pay any royalties just because other people heard it. It is termed “fair use”.

    5) Do you know what Underground music even is? If a band pays a recording label or has a recording contract they, by definition, cannot be underground. Self produced bands with no record ties do not owe a single penny to the RIAA or the recording labels. They sell their own CDs, or music downloads, or give them away for free. The RIAA could cry bloody murder from here till the end of time and it would not make a shred of difference, they don’t own the band.

    6) You are correct, paying the recording industry one way or another is unavoidable. But paying the RIAA is not. The RIAA doesn’t get money from every song every time you hear it in every venue. They have their function, which is copy-protection, lobbying for music industry standards, practices, laws, but they are not the intended primary vehicle of revenue for the member companies, they are arbiters for the companies desires and defenders of the companies mandates, but not the collectors of the companies revenues.

    If everyone (or at least most) people stopped buying music and stop illegal downloading (thats all, keep listening to the radio, keep doing everything else, just stop paying for CDs or downloads) the RIAA would die. They make their money from music they sell with their copy protection and in their format, and from CDs with their logo or approval, and the insane lawsuits. They would get slight money from the radio stations that would still have to buy the music, and video game makers, and TV commercials, but it would not be enough to stay in business, and they would collapse. Then it would go back to the way it used to be where Recording labels handled their own music rather than paying one central company to do it for them. At the very least, the labels would get the hint that people hate the RIAA and they are losing profits specifically because they associate with the RIAA.

    Again, remember that there is a vest difference between a recording label and the RIAA. One is greedy and the other was cobbled together from the tattered souls of slaughtered demons.

  10. SteveXo says:

    I was also kind of peeved to see that the link provided says nothing about fighting the new royalties. It’s only about protecting the funding of NPR and CPB. That’s cool and all, but it does nothing to help internet radio stations or even NPR from the new fees. I think the heading and context of this post needs to be edited to reflect the actual intent of the letters NPR is asking you to send.

  11. spinachdip says:

    @mac-phisto: “also, it’s not illegal to tape radio broadcasts. the broadcasts are considered within the public domain”

    Oh dear. Public domain means you can take a recording of a broadcast and do whateverthefuck you want with it, including re-broadcast or selling the tape on the street. That is certainly not the case.

    Recording a radio or TV program is considered acceptable since you’re basically time shifting, not reproducing. But you are infringing on copyright if you were to reproduce, redistribute or rebroadcast your tape.

  12. karmagrl76 says:

    SteveXo: Just change the subject line and body. That’s what I did.

  13. mac-phisto says:

    @eldergias: listen, the riaa is an industry association. it is made up of recording labels & other groups that exist within the industry. as long as the industry exists, the riaa will exist. it is no different than any other industry – the sole purpose of the riaa is to further the goals of its members. why do you make a distinction? if the members of the riaa didn’t agree with what it is doing, they would put it on a leash. they haven’t & they won’t until legislative or judicial backlash forces them to, or the industry as a whole collapses. the riaa isn’t about collecting on behalf of its members. it’s about protecting their interests.

    in regard to your #3 -> here’s the evidence you were looking for: section 1004 of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 requires manufacturers of recording medium to pay royalties equal to 2% of transfer price (up to $8) payable to the copyright office & held in trust by the us treasury. monies in this account shall be paid to entitled copyright holders.

    & #4 -> you don’t have to pay royalties to play your boombox at a party UNLESS you make money off that party. any business that plays music (even AM/FM radio) is legally required to pay royalties. the industry enforces this at their own whim, but they’ve been known to send cease & desist letters even to corner bars that refused to pay to play.

    & 5 -> if an “underground” band paid for time in a recording booth, they paid the riaa. if they recorded on music cd-rs, the paid the riaa. if they are members of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, then they’re relying on the industry’s method of royalty payment (in which the industry itself takes a cut). & if it plays on the web, our good friends at soundexchange take a cut. so while they may own their music, they lose a cut to the industry that collects their royalty payments. you think that sucks, check out how royalty payments are doled out sometime. artists have been bitching about that for decades.

    i’m not sure what industry you’re in, but i would bet that your industry has a trade association. & i would bet that you (or your employer) belong to it. & i would bet that you (or they) pay monthly or annual dues. that is where the riaa gets their money – from industry members that pay dues. want to avoid them? here’s the list of members to boycott:

    @spinachdip: yeah, i mispoke there. the broadcast is not “public domain”, but the airwaves themselves are considered “public domain”, or rather “owned by the public” – i forget what the term is. i think what i meant to say is that once a broadcast enters that domain, “fair use” applies. something like that.

  14. mac-phisto says:


    some links to other industry associations to give you a better idea of what one is & what they do –

    computing technology industry association:
    american bankers association:
    credit union national association:
    national association of manufacturers:
    telecommunications industry association:

  15. eldergias says:


    First, I would like to thank you for being a nice person to debate with. Some people think that either you agree with them or you are a total moron and will just call you an idiot. That you are responding in an intelligent and thoughtful manner is refreshing.

    1) The RIAA is a trade association that lobbies for the interests of its members, but I do not believe that it will exist as long as the industry exists. There was a time before there was a trade association for the music industry, and it still thrived. The RIAA will exist as long as the constitute members want it to exist. And they will want it to exist so long as it is more profitable for them that the RIAA exist rather than not. The members can reign in the RIAA, but until they start loosing money from not doing it, then they will not. They lose money every time a person who otherwise would have bought a CD chooses not to due to the RIAA’s practices. One sale will not go noticed, but millions will.

    I make the distinction because the whole and the constitute parts are distinct entities. Remove one key part from a clock and it will cease to function, pull Sony out of the RIAA and the RIAA will be hurting. If a recording label made 100% of its money by means that the RIAA did not affect, that label would have no use for the RIAA any longer and would cease to give its monitary support because it would not be profitable. If I went to Warner Bros. and just donated $1 million to the company, do you think they would give one penny to the RIAA in some other capacity than continued funding (IE: fees or gifts)? I seriously do not believe that would be the case. Warner Bros. want to make money. If I gave them money in such a way that they didn’t owe any of it to other sources they would keep it as such.

    The RIAA is made up of many members, but that does not mean that the members case about the RIAA, they care about what it can do for them. If they could do for themselves cheaper what the RIAA does for them now at its cost, they would no longer be members.

    It seems that most of the time “protecting the interests” of RIAA members is synonymous with “collecting monies”. Look at all of the lawsuits, they are less about putting firm stop guards in place and are more about profit.

    2) Section 1004 of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 that you refer to is for royalty payments to the copyright holder of the “digital recording process”. That could be the RIAA, if they purchased the rights to it, but I am fairly certain that 4 or so constitute members share the copy right (if the RIAA as a whole held it then every member would receive a cut as would the RIAA itself). I believe Sony and RCA were two of the original owners.

    I have to head off now, leaving work. When I get some more time I will respond to your other comments.

  16. mac-phisto says:

    @eldergias: thanks for the compliment…moron. j/k =P

    wikipedia has a pretty thorough explanation of the AHRA & how royalites are paid. check it out:

    i understand your argument, but i don’t share your optimism. if you look at the riaa board of directors, it’s comprised entirely of representative of record labels. you look at the riaa as a unique player, but i look at it as merely a puppet. the real actors are hidden from view.

    in my industry, our trade group pools the resources of its members to provide legal support, compliance information, training, education, human resource management, political action, etc. it represents us nationally & lobbies for us in congress. it’s even been known to sue a few times on our behalf. granted, it’s never sued a dead person or a 7-yr old…

    unfortunately, i believe the real problem with the riaa (& the labels that exist behind the scenes) is their lack of understanding of their own market. in a digital age where the possibilities really are endless, they are still grasping on outdated concepts & pouring their resources into restricting the market instead of increasing it.

    they fear change b/c they fear losing control. they’re reactive instead of proactive. eventually they will lose b/c artists will be able to record, market & distribute music w/o their help. that is what they fear most.

  17. eldergias says:

    @mac-phisto: The most straightforward logic to me is to believe that a major company, like record labels, will do whatever maximizes their profit most (though whether they are thinking long term or short term depends on the company, most think short term). This seems almost indisputable. If this is true, then it is a simple matter of: does the being a member of the RIAA or continuing to support the RIAA bring them more money than they would otherwise receive not doing so.

    At this point, it seems fairly obvious that in the long run, companies would receive lower profits, however I am not certain about the short run. Yeah, the RIAA is run by reps from the labels, but the drive for money still holds true. If you honestly think that the RIAA increases the profits of the companies it represents, then you are right about how crazy it would be to try to stop them, I just don’t think that they are adding the increased profits (via lobbying and legislation) that they promised based on the investment of the constitute companies.

    In my industry, our trade group actively puts restrictions and regulations on its constitute members. It punishes them, harshly I might add, if they break these regulations and routinely works with a government organization created specifically to regulate our industry (so we have two regulating bodies, one governmental and one trade group). Our trade group will lobby for policy changes occasionally, to benefit all involved (not just it’s members). But more of the time, they are working with the government organization to enforce policy and tighten regulations. (If you guessed my trade organization was the NASD, National Association of Securities Dealers, and the government organization was the SEC then you were right). Our trade group does what every trade group should do, reigns in its members and enforces strict policies while at the same time lobbying for FAIR rights for its members and working with a government body to create and enforce policy. It seems that the recording industry needs a governmental body to regulate it as we have the SEC. The SEC is here to protect the consumers, we need something like that for the music.

  18. eldergias says:

    btw I forgot to attach this link, which I have to say makes me honestly actively hate and loath executives of the RIAA, and would honestly cause me to tell them so if I ever met them:

    RIAA eats babies