Corker works to counter IRFA in Senate


U.S. CongressRon Wyden (D-OR) is the Senate sponsor of the Internet Radio Fairness Act introduced by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in the House. Wyden now has a legislative counterweight in the form of Bob Corker (R-TN), who is said to be organizing opposition to IRFA.

According to Hillicon Valley, Corker is circulating a letter asking colleagues to join him in opposition, saying it is an attempt by Pandora to have the government step in and fix its business model.

According to Corker, it is Pandora’s responsibility to create a business model that works.

Supporters of the bill believe the difference in rates charged to different audio platforms tilts the playing field away from internet radio and are seeking parity.

Corker says the internet rate is based on the free market and should be left as is.

Hillicon Valley notes that Corker’s siding with the music industry on the matter may have more than a little to do with the fact that he represents the state that is home to Country music capital Nashville.

RBR-TVBR observation: It is extremely difficult to see any sign of a free market when it comes to setting royalty rates. What does the “free” market have to do with a government entity setting one set of rates for one medium and another set of rates for a different medium?

We understand that the music industry believes that bringing internet radio rights in line with satellite/cable rates will cost them money. That is a valid argument.

But free market? Wouldn’t a free market result be the simple government establishment of the musician’s right to copyright protection, and with it the right to negotiate a rate with all who wish to use the musician’s work?

We understand the argument, and we fail to see that the concept of a free market has applies, despite the attempt to mimic a free market via the so-called willing buyer-willing seller model. We see that as nothing more than government-imposed mimicry.

As for the value of airplay, this writer was in a band many years back, and we actually managed to get one hour of airtime on a local band showcase program on late lamented Georgetown University progressive outlet WGTB. Even though we played original material, it never occurred to us to ask for any form of compensation. We were thrilled to simply be on the air.

We would have been thrilled beyond measure if any of our material had made it onto the airwaves on a regular basis, which wasn’t likely – we weren’t particularly commercial. It certainly never happened and the band eventually broke up and faded into obscurity. Maybe a little more free exposure on the radio would have prolonged the band’s lifespan – we would have loved to get airplay, would have freely supplied our music to anyone willing to play it — the airplay would have been the reward.

The point is, the copyright debate cannot simply be about the value of the music – it also has to include a calculation as to the value of the exposure.