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on corporate america

So my favorite Internet radio station just went off the air because they can't afford the usurious royalty rates so successfully lobbied for by the RIAA. This completely sucks.

What do they DO with all that money, anyway?

Comments

( 4 comments — Comment )
sengelha
Jul. 1st, 2002 11:36 am (UTC)
Duh!
They use it to lobby Congress for more.
jonroma
Jul. 1st, 2002 06:09 pm (UTC)
The RIAA is a bunch of bottomfeeding slime. While they talk about safeguarding the artists' creative output, the fact of the matter is that they're screwing the artists and safeguarding the labels' interests. The most disturbing thing about the RIAA is that they are apparently well-skilled at the art of applying sufficient suction to members of Congress, who gladly pass the legislation for which the RIAA lobbies, often without bothering with the normal protocol of conducting hearings. One of the best articles on the digital music phenomenon and its relationship with copyright law was about two years ago in The Atlantic. The entire article is well worth a read, IMHO, but a few choice excerpts deserve to be repeated here.
Paying back the record label is even more difficult than it sounds, because contracts are rife with idiosyncratic legal details that effectively reduce royalty rates. As a result, many, perhaps most, musicians on big record labels accumulate a debt that the labels -- unlike book publishers -- routinely charge against their next projects, should they prove to be successful. According to Whitney Broussard, the music lawyer, musicians who make a major-label pop-music compact disc typically must sell a million copies to receive a royalty check. "A million units is a platinum record," he says. "A platinum record means you've broken even -- maybe." Meanwhile, he adds, "the label would have grossed almost eleven million dollars at this point, netting perhaps four million."
As a standard practice labels demand that musicians surrender the copyright on the compact disc itself. "When you look at the legal line on a CD, it says 'Copyright 1976 Atlantic Records' or 'Copyright 1996 RCA Records,'" the singer Courtney Love explained in a speech to a music convention in May. "When you look at a book, though, it'll say something like 'Copyright 1999 Susan Faludi' or 'David Foster Wallace.' Authors own their books and license them to publishers. When the contract runs out, writers get their books back. But record companies own our copyrights forever."
Strikingly, the companies own the recordings even if the artists have fully compensated the label for production and sales costs. "It's like you pay off the mortgage and the bank still owns the house," says Timothy White, the editor-in-chief of Billboard. "Everything is charged against the musician -- recording expenses, marketing and promotional costs -- and then when it's all paid off, they still own the record." Until last November artists could take back their recordings after thirty-five years. But then, without any hearings, Congress passed a bill with an industry-backed amendment that apparently strips away this right. "It's unconscionable," White says. "It's big companies making a naked grab of intellectual property from small companies and individuals."
(Anonymous)
Jul. 2nd, 2002 04:17 am (UTC)
Tamboli
I got to hear Jack Valenti argue with Larry Lessig at a panel discussion on Thursday. Not only does he claim that there's no better business model than the one the movie industry uses (ergo they need legal protection to maintain it), but the guy just looks evil. He's only about 5 feet tall, though.
caesararum
Jul. 2nd, 2002 01:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Tamboli
Yeah, demons tend to be short.


-pjp
( 4 comments — Comment )

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