As you may or may not know Pandora is trying to push a bill through congress that would slash payments to artists by as much as 85%. By “pushing through congress” we actually mean paying-oops er we mean being a “top contributor” to Rep. Chaffetz according to Open Secrets, and then Chaffetz magically sponsors the IRFA bill which will pretty much just benefit Pandora. Pandora pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobbyists including a former legislative director of a leading member of the House Judiciary Committee. It will let Pandora get around agreements it made with artists unions and copyright holders. This is like Delta Airlines going to congress and asking them to pass a law to force their pilots union and fuel vendors into accepting an 85% cut. We don’t do this in this country. Screw these guys.
So every day this week we are gonna highlight something that we particularly offensive about Pandora and this bill.
Tell Congress: Don’t Slash Music Creators’ Pay
#3. Pandora’s Kangaroo Court and Fake Judges.
Hyperbole? Not really. What else would you call it when a bill designed to benefit a private corporation demands the dissolution of one court and replacement with another court but the judges aren’t allowed to consider “facts” that the bills backers find inconvenient?
No you didn’t wake up in some 1970s third world kleptocracy. Nope this is really happening. The Tim “I’m- a-friend-of-musicians-but-their-unions-should-be-prosecuted-under-the-sherman-act” Westergren backed Internet Radio Fairness Act would do exactly that.
By cleverly switching who appoints these judges from the (non-partisan) Librarian of Congress to the President with Senate approval, the current un-Pandora™-approved judges will be let go.
(a) Appointment.— The
Librarian of CongressPresident of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint 3 full-time Copyright Royalty Judges, and shall appoint 1 of the 3 as the Chief Copyright Royalty Judge. The Librarian shall make appointments to such positions after consultation with the Register of Copyrights.
Next the Pandora sponsored bill would makes sure the new judges couldn’t rule unfavorably for Pandora by restricting what facts they are allowed to consider. For instance the judges are REQUIRED to consider the rates that non interactive radio stations pay (read broadcaster Sirius/XM), but the section that requires the judges consider the rates other interactive broadcasters pay is removed from the Law. What’s more it expressly FORBIDS the judges from considering the previous interactive rates set in other agreements and the rulings and decisions of the previous judges!! He who controls the past controls the future?!!! This is fucking Orwellian.
You don’t understand? Pandora and Spotify are more like jukeboxes then radio. Spotify plays artists on demand and Pandora plays artists near on demand. The performers provide a large share of the “value” in this transaction. In traditional broadcast the radio station can be seen to be “promoting” the performer. Further unless you get on a request line they don’t play exactly the artist you want. Thus royalties for webcasters like Pandora have always been higher than for traditional broadcast radio because of the higher value provided by the artists. But this rewriting of the law forces the judges to ignore the differences between a normal broadcaster like Sirius/XM and near on demand Pandora when setting rates. It doesn’t allow the judges to consider the other interactive services so their only choice is to set rates the same as XM/Sirius.
It’s really quite shitty. Yes there are judges in the process but the outcome is predetermined. That’s why I say “fake judges”. They aren’t really allowed to judge anything.
(B) …….under this paragraph, the Copyright Royalty Judges shall apply the objectives set forth in section 801(b)(1) and may also consider the rates and terms for noninteractive digital audio transmission services under voluntary license agreements described in subparagraph (A)
.that were entered into under competitive market circumstances. In any proceeding under this subsection, the burden of proof shall be on the copyright owners of sound recordings to establish that the fees and terms that they seek satisfy the requirements of this subsection, and do not exceed the fees to which most copyright owners and users would agree under competitive market circumstances.
(v) shall not take into account either the rates and terms provided in licenses for interactive services or the determinations rendered by the Copyright Royalty Judges prior to the enactment of the Internet Radio Fairness Act of 2012.
Screw you too Pandora.