Monday, January 28, 2008

Like rats on a sinking ship...

For anyone who is still of the opinion that the RIAA's fight against illegal downloading (and piracy in general) has anything to do with a sense of responsibility to the artists (as opposed to the big institutions that live off the artists), there is this.

A long-ish excerpt (the italics are mine):

On Monday, January 28, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) begins the hearing that will determine mechanical rates for every songwriter and music publisher in America. It will be the most important rate hearing in the history of the music industry because in addition to setting rates for physical products, rates will be set for the first time ever for digital products such as digital downloads, subscription services and ringtones.

The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) will be representing the interests of songwriters and music publishers and will be fighting vigorously to protect those interests to ensure that musical compositions are compensated fairly.

On the other side of this fight stands the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Digital Music Association (DiMA). Both the RIAA and DiMA have proposed significant reductions in mechanical royalty rates that would be disastrous for songwriters and music publishers. This is literally a fight for the survival of our industry.

To give you an example of what is at stake, the current rate for physical phonorecords is 9.1 cents. The NMPA is proposing an increase to 12.5 cents per song. The RIAA, however, has proposed slashing the rate to approximately 6 cents a song - a cut of more than one-third the current rate!

For permanent digital downloads, NMPA is proposing a rate of 15 cents per track because the costs involved are much less than for physical products. The RIAA has proposed the outrageous rate of approximately 5 - 5.5 cents per track, and DiMA is proposing even less.

If you find that troubling, it gets worse. For interactive streaming services, which some analysts believe will be the future of the music industry, NMPA is proposing a rate of the greater of 12.5% of revenue, 27.5% of content costs, or a micro-penny calculation based on usage. The RIAA actually proposed that songwriters and music publishers should get the equivalent of .58% of revenue. This isn't a typo - less than 1%. And DiMA is taking the shocking and offensive position that songwriters' and music publishers' mechanical rights should be zero, because DiMA does not believe we have any such rights!

And here's the "official notice" of the hearing, with an extensive list of all the documents submitted in the case.


the improvising guitarist said...

Do you get the feeling that the recording industry is a little like the oil companies? Their precious commodity is running out, and, instead of adapting to the new environment (one of the classic tropes of free-market capitalism), they lie, steal, cheat so maintain their fix.


Andrew Durkin... said...

Yup, that's about the way I see it too...