So if the groups Cracker or Camper Van Beethoven spoke out against a direct licensing deal because, say, it might allow record companies to capture the artists’ share of performance royalties, would that exercise of free speech “impede” direct licensing? Do artists now have to check with their legal counsel before making comments on Facebook for fear of being sued under The Sherman Act? Do the member companies of the Internet Radio Fairness Coalition with their combined $1 trillion plus market cap really need this special government protection?
This is not to say that the proposed bill does not include significant changes to the government mandated royalties for the public performance of sound recordings. We agree with the 125 artists who signed an open letter to Pandora and the newly formed Internet Radio Fairness Coalition asking for fair negotiations rather than asking the government to step in to change the way those rates are calculated.
Thomas Shatz, president of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste said it best: “The result [the Internet Radio Fairness Coalition seeks] is to move nearly 1,800 entities that currently operate under the market-based standard down to the below-market standard, instead of moving the three grandfathered entities up to the market-based standard.”
The good news is that this bill could provide a moment of bipartisan cooperation, for it’s filled with things that offend both Democratic and Republican sensibilities.
Lowery is the founder of the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethovan, and teaches in the Music Business Program at the University of Georgia at Athens. Castle is a music and technology attorney based in Austin, Texas.