More Corruption on the Potomac: Here comes the okie doke on Pandora’s royalty rates

Rumor has it that the new and “improved” Internet Radio Fairness Act is about to be introduced by Rep. Chaffetz in the House IP subcommittee–which means someone is scurrying around the halls of Congress trying to line up co-sponsors.

So what will be different this time?  I would imagine that all the censorship stuff David Lowery discussed with Senator Wyden at the Future of Music Policy Summit in DC will be gone.  I would also bet that it’s going to focus more tightly on royalty rates this time.  So how might the Big Tech funders of the legislation do that?

One thing that is clear from the current noises coming from the pro-IRFA crew is that they intend to try to divide the artists.  How might they try to do that?  The same way they do everything in Washington–corruptly.  They’re going to try to buy us off.

Rep. Chaffetz (likely to be the bill’s author again) offers some guidance in his questioning of the erudite Jimmy Jam during the IRFA hearing last session (at pp. 153-54):


Mr. Jam, as you know, currently the amount SoundExchange receives for any given recording played by an Internet radio station, generally 50 percent goes to the copyright holder, which is usually the record label [aside from the majority of tracks that are owned by the artists]; 45 percent goes to the artist; and 5 percent is set aside for background and session musicians. Do you think that the majority [50% is a majority?] of that should go to the copyright holder, essentially the record label, or should the artist get more?


Well, let me hit my button here. Sorry about that. I guess I feel that, first of all, 50 percent for the compulsory rate is fair because it——
Mr. CHAFFETZ [Didn’t like that answer…]
So you are not suggesting that artists should get the majority of the revenue. [Objection, leading…]
I don’t think I am suggesting anything yet because I had only started talking. I believe that the 50 percent is the correct—as the rate the court has set, that is the correct way to go.
I am sorry, I only have got 5 minutes. I have to keep going. If you like the way the rates are set, I accept that, and let me move on.
You don’t suppose that Mr. Chaffetz thinks that artists–small business operators making a payroll–are stupid enough to believe that if they are given a larger piece of a smaller pie that somehow they are better off, do ya?
Do they think that they can give us the old okie doke and we’re just going to turn on each other while Tim Westergren cashes out at over $1,000,000 a month–and we’re not supposed to notice that?
Do they think we’re idiots?  Just not as smart as The Man 2.0?