Webcasters slap RIAA with antitrust suit

You read it here first


The Webcaster Alliance has filed a suit against the Recording Industry Association of America and five major record labels for anti-competive behavior. The case arises from a deal last year, details of which were first reported by The Register, between a handful of small webcasters and the RIAA to set performance royalty rates.

The WA alleges that the plan was part of a strategy to wipe out an entire industry at birth - the independent webcasters - and the suit has explosive political implications for senior Congressman Sensenbrenner who forced the deal. Sensenbrenner later admitted taking $18,000 from the RIAA for a trip to the Far East.

"A private negotiation between the RIAA and the VOW" - the breakaway group responsible for cutting the deal - "became, by virtue of the SWSA [Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002], an industry deal for all small webcasters."

The suit alleges that the VOW agreement "actually put many small webcasters in a worse position" than they had been under the rates set by the Library of Congress' Copyright Office earlier that year, by for example mandating a fourfold increase in in the minimum royalty fee.

The Webcaster Alliance alleges that this and an earlier agreement with Yahoo! "had the intent and effect of restraining competition in the market for domestically recorded sound recordings and in the market for the Internet distribution for such sound recordings."

"Faced with exclusionary licensing rates," continues the suit, "... Plaintiff's members are faced with certain and imminent extinction."

Which may be exactly what the RIAA wants, the suit suggests. The Major Labels named, which own 90 per cent of content, "had a near-exclusive hold on distribution and marketing channels to consumers, such as radio station play, shelf space in major retail outlets, tour books, promotions and music videos" until the advent of the Internet.

The suit notes that the Library of Congress has already established a finding of fact that in the Yahoo! Agreement RIAA members artificially inflated royalty fees, the Librarian noting that "the RIAA created a virtually uniform precedent with rates above those that most buyers would be willing to pay."

A Yahoo! executive subsequently testified before the House that the agreement set "excessive" rates that were "considerably higher" than what the stations could afford.

By sealing a deal, the RIAA sought to wipe out the primary digital distribution mechanism for Independent labels, says the WA.

Sensenbrenner played a crucial role in the VoW settlement: forcing the negotiating webcasters to cut a deal with the RIAA or leave his congressional staff to write a deal for them. ®

Related Stories - chronological

Radio royalties: the ticking timebomb under the RIAA

[the deal]

'96 pc of Net Radio' to close after backroom deal screws grassroots 'casters

RIAA-backed webcast bill 'a disaster for the US'

'RIAA-written' Net radio bill served to Senate

Civil disobedience promised after net radio royalty bill falls

[the recriminations]

New Alliance for webcasters

Webcast relief defers Day of Judgement

RIAA engineered webcast split - former exec

[compromise relief legislation]

Helms explains webcasting deal

Bush signs Webcast Act

RIAA agrees webcasting rates... with non-webcasting AOL, Microsoft

AOL Time Warner takes grip of net radio

RIAA faces antitrust suit


Other stories you might like

  • India extends deadline for compliance with infosec logging rules by 90 days
    Helpfully announced extension on deadline day

    India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the local Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) have extended the deadline for compliance with the Cyber Security Directions introduced on April 28, which were due to take effect yesterday.

    The Directions require verbose logging of users' activities on VPNs and clouds, reporting of infosec incidents within six hours of detection - even for trivial things like unusual port scanning - exclusive use of Indian network time protocol servers, and many other burdensome requirements. The Directions were purported to improve the security of local organisations, and to give CERT-In information it could use to assess threats to India. Yet the Directions allowed incident reports to be sent by fax – good ol' fax – to CERT-In, which offered no evidence it operates or would build infrastructure capable of ingesting or analyzing the millions of incident reports it would be sent by compliant organizations.

    The Directions were roundly criticized by tech lobby groups that pointed out requirements such as compelling clouds to store logs of customers' activities was futile, since clouds don't log what goes on inside resources rented by their customers. VPN providers quit India and moved their servers offshore, citing the impossibility of storing user logs when their entire business model rests on not logging user activities. VPN operators going offshore means India's government is therefore less able to influence such outfits.

    Continue reading
  • Hangouts hangs up: Google chat app shuts this year
    How many messaging services does this web giant need? It's gotta be over 9,000

    Google is winding down its messaging app Hangouts before it officially shuts in November, the web giant announced on Monday.

    Users of the mobile app will see a pop-up asking them to move their conversations onto Google Chat, which is yet another one of its online services. It can be accessed via Gmail as well as its own standalone application. Next month, conversations in the web version of Hangouts will be ported over to Chat in Gmail. 

    Continue reading
  • OpenSSL 3.0.5 awaits release to fix potential worse-than-Heartbleed flaw
    Though severity up for debate, and limited chips affected, broken tests hold back previous patch from distribution

    The latest version of OpenSSL v3, a widely used open-source library for secure networking using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, contains a memory corruption vulnerability that imperils x64 systems with Intel's Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX512).

    OpenSSL 3.0.4 was released on June 21 to address a command-injection vulnerability (CVE-2022-2068) that was not fully addressed with a previous patch (CVE-2022-1292).

    But this release itself needs further fixing. OpenSSL 3.0.4 "is susceptible to remote memory corruption which can be triggered trivially by an attacker," according to security researcher Guido Vranken. We're imagining two devices establishing a secure connection between themselves using OpenSSL and this flaw being exploited to run arbitrary malicious code on one of them.

    Continue reading
  • Not enough desks and parking spots, wobbly Wi-Fi: Welcome back to the office, Tesla staff
    Don't worry, the tweetings will continue until morale improves

    Employees at Tesla suffered spotty Wi-Fi and struggled to find desks and parking spots when they were returned to work at the office following orders from CEO Elon Musk.

    Most tech companies are either following a hybrid work model or are still operating fully remotely. Musk, however, wants his automaker's staff back at the office working for at least 40 hours a week. Those who fail to return risk losing their jobs, he warned in an internal email earlier this month.

    "Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don't show up, we will assume you have resigned," he wrote.

    Continue reading
  • LGBTQ+ folks warned of dating app extortion scams
    Uncle Sam tells of crooks exploiting Pride Month

    The FTC is warning members of the LGBTQ+ community about online extortion via dating apps such as Grindr and Feeld.

    According to the American watchdog, a common scam involves a fraudster posing as a potential romantic partner on one of the apps. The cybercriminal sends explicit of a stranger photos while posing as them, and asks for similar ones in return from the mark. If the victim sends photos, the extortionist demands a payment – usually in the form of gift cards – or threatens to share the photos on the chat to the victim's family members, friends, or employer.

    Such sextortion scams have been going on for years in one form or another, even attempting to hit Reg hacks, and has led to suicides.

    Continue reading
  • 5G C-band rollout at US airports slowed over radio altimeter safety fears
    Well, they did say from July, now they really mean from July 2023

    America's aviation watchdog has said the rollout of 5G C-band coverage near US airports won't fully start until next year, delaying some travelers' access to better cellular broadband at crowded terminals.

    Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a statement this month that its discussions with wireless carriers "have identified a path that will continue to enable aviation and 5G C-band wireless to safely co-exist."

    5G C-band operates between 3.7-3.98GHz, near the 4.2-4.4GHz band used by radio altimeters that are jolly useful for landing planes in limited visibility. There is or was a fear that these cellular signals, such as from cell towers close to airports, could bleed into the frequencies used by aircraft and cause radio altimeters to display an incorrect reading. C-band technology, which promises faster mobile broadband, was supposed to roll out nationwide on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile US's networks, but some deployments have been paused near airports due to these concerns. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022