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RIAA caused webcast split, says ex-IWA exec
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2002-12-08
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The recent split in the webcast community was fomented by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), "engaging in what appears to be classic divide-and-rule tactics".

Susan Pickering, former executive director of the International Webcasting Association, is quoted in a November 21 The Register interview (http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/28211.html) as saying an RIAA approach to IWA attorney David Oxenford, who'd been working pro bono for the association, was made without the IWA's knowledge.

"The IWA had been trying to negotiate with the RIAA over the CARP royalty rates without success," says Pickering, going on, "It led to a small, break away group of webcasters cutting a deal with the RIAA and replacing a placeholder Webcaster relief bill (HR.5469) with a contentious 28-page alternative tariff at the last moment. This deeply divided the community with a small number of 'casters, joined by consultant Kurt Hanson, advocating the alternative tariff while many others including non-profit and educational broadcasters voiced their strong opposition."

The measure was ultimately killed in the Senate by Senator Jesse Helms but Pickering says she'd been trying to negotiate with the IWA on behalf of all its representatives, says The Register.

"To my knowledge, there had not been an opportunity for the IWA legislative committee, which includes board members, to meet with the RIAA although members of the IWA had repeatedly asked for that opportunity," she stated.

The Register also quotes Twangcast's Mike Hays, a member of the backroom negotiating team and privy to the RIAA's tactics, "before resigning in disgust shortly before a final agreement was reached," as saying:

"This was not intended to be a legislative deal". Attention was still focused on the more wide-ranging Inslee/Boucher bill, the proposed Internet Radio Fairness Act, which proved to be too expansive for the time available but, "The RIAA had no intention of giving anything. The judiciary staff basically wrote the Bill [HR.5469] with the RIAA."

When the negotiating team went beyond the single digit royalty for smaller webcasters, Hays walked away, he says, adding, "The RIAA was given its recoupment money up front - so artists who'd had their music played on the Internet for two, three or four years would never see a dime.

"The RIAA carved itself $18 million out of royalty money for its collection arm, SoundExchange."


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