Intellectual property attorney Bennett Lincoff has written an important opinion piece about the recent Copyright Royalty Board decision on streaming rates (see related past posts here and here). By focusing on fees and not conditions or administrative burden, he fears that webcasters will win the battle but lose the war:
... However, in exchange for direct licenses at reduced fees, the record labels will demand certain non-financial concessions from webcasters. These will include, for example, that webcasters not stream music as MP3 files or in any other file format that cannot be configured to prevent unauthorized downloading of the music being transmitted. Webcasters will also likely be required to employ filtering and other DRM technologies. ¶ In addition, all of the content restrictions and programming limitations imposed on webcasters under the statutory license will be imposed as well on those webcasters who seek direct licenses. They will not be permitted to offer interactive programming by which consumers can request that particular recordings be transmitted; will not be permitted to offer programming dedicated to particular artists, or even containing more than a few songs by the same artist or from the same recording; will not be permitted to make prior announcements of the recordings they will stream; and will not be permitted to offer archived programs shorter than five hours duration. ¶ This interference in the programming decisions of webcasters has no counterpart in the music industry's relationship with non-digital program services. It diminishes webcasting unnecessarily, rendering it less compelling in many ways than ordinary broadcast radio. This is not Internet radio as anyone other than the record labels wants it to be. ...
Link: The Register.
Be sure also to read his white paper, Fixing What's Badly Broken: A Proposal to Maximimze the Licensed Availability of Recorded Music for Digital Transmissions and to Make the Music Industry Whole Again as the Digital Music Marketplace Develops. Link: BennetLincoff.com (PDF). --Dennis