Grover Norquist weighs in on internet royalties


Money TreeAmericans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist has fired off a letter to members of both congressional Judiciary Committees objecting to the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which he opposes. But rather than favoring one set of rules over another, it turns out he opposes the existing rules too.

The ATR website states, “This legislation would replace one compulsory model for government price setting of copyrighted material with another. While the current so-called ‘willing buyer willing seller’ model may attempt to mimic a free market negotiation, both the existing and proposed models pick winners and losers, rather than allowing free market negotiations.”

Norquist believes the government should extricate itself from the entire process and let the market rule. The absence of government, he believes, will foster an environment where all stakeholders – “broadcasters, record companies, artists, and other interested parties” – can come together and engage in open negotiations over royalty rates.

RBR-TVBR observation: We have to say we were a little surprised to get wind of Norquist’s sudden interest in this matter. It’s not a tax question, really, nor have we ever been aware of any interest in broadcasting from ATR. It was a little like hearing that President Richard M. Nixon had time to take from a busy day of presidenting to submit a play for the Washington Redskins to run in the Super Bowl (oh, wait, that actually happened!).

Anyway, in the unlikely event that Norquist’s views carry the day, get ready for the negotiation from hell. Can you imagine broadcasters, satellite representatives, website operators, record labels, musicians, composers and other music rights holders all in the same room starting from scratch on royalties? We freely admit that we can’t manage that one.