Friday, June 29, 2007

RIAA flexibility?

In the appeal of the CRB's decision, the parties have now filed their papers concerning whether the decision should be "stayed" while the appeal goes on. (Recall that if the court grants a stay, the present system would remain in place during the appeal; if they deny the stay the rates set out by the CRB's decision would come into effect on July 15 even as those rates are being appealed.)

Among other things, the CRB's ruling would impose a $500 minimum annual fee per channel. This would be a heavy burden to internet radio stations that offer multiple channels, and many of those stations have pointed to this provision as particularly damaging. It now appears that RIAA may be signalling some flexibility on this point in their court filing opposing the stay.

SoundExchange opposed the stay, because RIAA wants the new rates to come into effect immediately. But SoundExchange's opposition also said that should the court grant a stay:

...any stay should be limited to the minimum fee provision and should allow pre-existing minimum fee requirements ($500 per channel, capped at $2500 per licensee) to remain in place pending appeal.

This could be very important. It shows that RIAA is afraid of the Internet Radio Equality Act, and it may be a signal that RIAA is willing to be flexible.
While this is encouraging news, it would be far better if the court granted a stay of the entire CRB ruling.

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