Just say No to PRA negotiations

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Broadcasters should call Sound Exchange and ask for the current and past IRS FORM 990. When you read how much money they have in the bank you will fall off your chair.  Most of the money goes to record companies and if they cannot find artists especially dead ones they just keep the money and part goes to the record company. This is a giant scam. I spent months researching my suit (see below). Congress, by even allowing these discussions, is letting foreign organizations control our laws. That’s not smart. There are important points here:
 
1. Record Companies of any size are offshore.  There are laws against offshore companies tampering with our laws.
2.  The copyright board made an innocent civil act now a criminal act with jail time.  They are not elected. How did this happen?
3. Don’t get “Suckered in” to negotiations with this cabal.  Read the US Supreme Court Lucas Decision.
 
I dropped my NAB membership when I found out that they were not going to FIGHT sound exchange but instead negotiate with them.  Al Capone would have loved this. Somebody needs to find a group and sue to stop this blackmail.
 
A noted DC attorney says it’s all illegal due to:
1. Ex Post Facto
2. Offshore companies establishing fronts.
3. Artists like authors get paid on sales.
4. This is a greedy way for big offshore companies to “Milk” the libraries they own.
5. Patsy Cline, Elvis and hundreds of other dead artists don’t need royalties.


Again, broadcasters or NAB should get Sound Exchange’s 990 for the last three years and you will choke and also their list of unpaid artists. Negotiations with these people is like the camel getting his nose into the tent.  Or more precisely, like Neville Chamberlain signing a “peace” agreement with Hitler. Once the concept is approved then rates will go up. Remember, once this starts it may migrate to books. Don’t let this happen. 
 
Here is the suit:
In The United States District Court for the
Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division

 
Charles E. Harder, Pro Se )

In propria persona             )

                                        )

Vs:                                   )     Case No.___________________________

                                        )

Sound Exchange, et al       )
Of Washington, DC           )           Request For Federal Court Judicial               
                                                  Review and Relief From Antitrust
                                                  Activities of the Record Industry

Introduction and summary of the case.  Your Plaintiff will be 66 in November of this year and since age 15 has been a radio announcer, “Disc Jockey” in major cities such as Chicago, New York and Tampa and a syndicated talk host coast-to-coast by satellite since 1987. Now confined to a wheelchair and disabled I cannot leave my home due to my need for special devices and although still on-the-air daily from my home studio doing a talk show, I am disabled and housebound and unable to travel.

A book publisher makes money when they sell copies of the title.  An artist gets paid when they sell a painting.  Record companies used to do the same.  You do not pay the author of a book a royalty each time it is read but somehow Sound Exchange has gotten rules passed where a radio station or Internet station must pay each time they play a record AFTER they have purchased it.  This came to my attention when I wanted to launch two Internet Radio Stations that I have spent nearly 30 thousand dollars gearing up for.  I then learned that Sound Exchange wants money up front before I go on the air and then if I have 1,000 listeners I would pay them a royalty of $1.80 for each song I played which totals $36.00 an hour to play 20 songs.  If I do not pay them this tribute they will sue me. 

This kind of money is not recoverable as advertisers want to pay $2.00 per thousand listeners and the most commercials you could play would be 6 that brought you $12.00 while you paid Sound Exchange $36.00 per hour.  Plus they want record keeping that is impossible and demand that each song title, artist and record company are identified each time a record is played.  They then want a minute to minute log and additional funds if your playlist so dictates the usage.  Meeting these demands are impossible for people like me who have reel to reel tapes recorded in the ‘60’s and bought from overseas orchestras.  Next, without the broadcast industry giving free airtime to people who complain and whine like Tony Bennett, he would be unknown and probably would be singing in a local bar for a few dollars a night.  It is the RADIO industry that has made the record industry rich and now they wish to extort more.  I cannot allow this to happen without bringing it to the Court’s attention and ask the US District Attorney to study the matters of Anti-Trust and what I consider as “greenmail” to be able to do business.

 
RELIEF ASKED FOR:

 
I see this as an illegal monopoly that violates the Sherman, Robinson-Patman and Clayton act.  It also violates US Code 42 1983 as they are now a “Super Class” of people who have rights that they have taken from me.  Never did we have to pay a royalty to play a record.  Yes, we paid ASCAP, BMI and SESAC who represented the song writers which although is questionable – has been  a cost that was bearable and did not put anyone out of business.  Sound Exchange is putting more and more stations out of business and killing Internet Stations.

I ask for a Temporary Restraining Order that allows broadcasters to function without these onerous fees until this case is fully decided and looked at by the US Attorneys. No damage will be done to the record industry as they sell records and get free airtime.  If anything it will mean MORE records are played and that will assist their sales and thus the performers who get royalties from sales.

We are in a Depression or whatever you wish to call it.  The fees levied by Sound Exchange is putting stations OUT OF BUSINESS and that means that citizens are deprived of local radio service where Sound Exchange caused the stations to “Throw in the towel.”

Their onerous fees and requirements of record keeping are so expensive that I had to turn off my two Internet stations:  One would play easy listening music and the other would play smash jukebox hits from the 1950’s forward.  I have spent thousands of dollars researching the records and then having over 2,600 hand transferred from 45 RPM Vinyl to CD and then put in the automation systems that now sit idle.  I ask the court to relieve me of having to list each song, artist and title when they play as it cannot be done technically with my automation system.

Please note that in the past local radio stations paid “blanket fees” and did not keep any logs of records played except for a rare occasion.

I ask for a protective order so that I can launch my two Internet stations without fear of any action by Sound Exchange or their associates.  All I want to do is play the records that I have PAID FOR plus the normal ASCAP, BMI and SESAC payments that are customary in the trade.  I am confined to a wheelchair and this was going to be a way I could make a living.  Sound Exchange prohibits me from making an income from the music library and machinery that I have purchased that sit at this moment OFF THE AIR.  If the court gave me a TRO I would be on the air within 24 hours and perhaps begin to make a living.  I am in a wheelchair and live on SSI plus a small pension from The American Federation of Radio Artists known as AFTRA/SAG.  But I need that extra income to buy drugs that are not covered by Medicare and my supplemental such as Plavix and Nitrostat for chest pain as I just had heart surgery.  I have just returned home after an attack.

I ask the court to have local US District Attorneys look at all this and the violations I cite attached – as I need to recover my invested money and time.

The United States Supreme Court in (Calder vs. Bull 1798) holds ex post facto laws violate Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution.  Very few instances of such legislation have survived only when they generally are for the public good like the registration of known sex offenders.  However in this matter of Defendants wanting to now charge me to play records I bought years ago and most of the artists who recorded them are dead.  Examples; Lenny Dee, Percy Faith, Al Hibbler, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Jackie Gleason, Bert Kaempfert, Glenn Miller, Bobby Hackett, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Perry Como and many more who recorded the music I have bought since 1955. 

What I ask is the pressing need now to impose hardship on me and others in the same situation? It should be noted that after three years of the collection of money – Sound Exchange can keep this “booty” if they make some attempt to find the artist to pay them but do not.  Do you pay a royalty to the people who built your house?  The Civil Rights movement made it clear:  “What you do for one you must do for all!”

The kindest light I can put this in is “unjust enrichment.”  Therefore I ask the court And US District Attorneys and US Attorney General to correct such affronts to our Constitutional rights that have been taken away from all of us except for this new class of “Special People” who now have superior rights compared to others.  It should be noted that three of the largest record companies are owned by foreign companies.

As a long-time broadcaster I can tell you that any broadcasters making a “Settlement” and any type of payment agreement to do so is out of fear of being sued.  Your lawyer tells you these people have unlimited funds and to defend you may cost  $100,000.00 or more as that is what Peoples Network, Inc. paid to win in a suit years ago about copyrights.  Although we won, the court did not allow us to recover our attorney fees and costs.  Bluntly, broadcasters are terrified of being sued.

Jury trial requested and I pray for any relief the court may immediately allow. Perhaps the court can rule on a cut-off date where “old records” are exempt and allow a new system where stations could contract for NEW recordings only if they wish to do so.  I opine that most would not do so.

Sound Exchange, Inc. is a form of “Protection Racket” – all the broadcasters I talk to are afraid of being sued and that is the only reason they would “comply.”

This action will not hurt the backers of “Sound Exchange” – as they are giant record companies and the largest are foreign-owned.  I used to own a record company in the mid 60’s and one label was called:  PARIS TOWER and the deal then as now is as follows:  RCA or Columbia record pressing would charge from 6 to 9 cents for a 45 rpm record with two songs.  The artists would get 6% of the retail sales and the song-writer or publisher would get 3 cents per record.

At that date and time the record companies would sell to distributors or to “One-stop” jobbers who often sold to Jukebox operators for about 66cents per record.  Everybody got paid according to the marketplace and reaction to the record.  “Smash Hits” made many artists wealthy and it did not require the “greenmail actions” of Sound Exchange who now want broadcasters to continue to pay when a record is performed which has taken away my rights to do business.

 
Respectfully submitted,

Charles E. Harder
[ address omitted ]
386 397-4489  [email protected]

Certificate Of Service
 
Comes now your Plaintiff, Charles E. Harder and certifies that a true copy of this complaint and brief has been sent by First Class Mail with tracking to:

Sound Exchange, Inc.                       U.S. Attorney
1121 14th St. NW  #700                     300 N. Hogan Street #700
Washington, DC 20005                     Jacksonville, FL 32202

Antitrust Division                              Antitrust Division
U.S. Dept. of Justice                          U.S. Department of Justice
601 D Street                                      Russell Building Suite 1176
Washington, DC 20530                      75 Spring Street, S.W.
                                                        Atlanta, GA 30303

U.S. Federal Trade Commission
6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20580

Copyright Royalty Board
PO Box 70977
Washington, DC 20024-0977

Original filed with the US Federal District Court, Jacksonville, FL

 
Signed and certified by:

Charles E. Harder, Plaintiff
[ address omitted ] 
386 397-4489
[email protected]

–by Chuck Harder:  You may remember him from WWBA-FM, WFLA, WPLP, WDAE and WLCY/WNSI. Chuck founded the first 24/7 full service network with news, sports, national weather in Tampa: Sun Radio. He’s also the founder of an organization for disabled, shut-ins and seniors: WWW.NEWABILITIESTV.COM


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.