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RIAA Wants Artist Royalties Lowered 399

Posted by Zonk
from the why-should-they-get-paid-it-is-not-their-music dept.
laughingcoyote writes "The RIAA has asked the panel of federal government Copyright Royalty Judges to lower royalties paid to publishers and songwriters. They're specifically after digital recordings, and uses like cell phone ringtones. They say that the rates (which were placed in 1981) don't apply the same way to new technologies." From the article: "According to The Hollywood Reporter, the RIAA maintains that in the modern period when piracy began devastating the record industry profits to publishers from sales of ringtones and other 'innovative services' grew dramatically. Record industry executives believe this to be cause to advocate reducing the royalties paid to the artists who wrote the original music."
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RIAA Wants Artist Royalties Lowered

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  • one would hope... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:05AM (#17183178)
    One would hope that all those artists who've been letting themselves get used by the RIAA in their anti-piracy campaign get a good look at this.
    • by Heir Of The Mess (939658) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:11AM (#17183398) Homepage

      If the RIAA start driving away the artists then it makes the RIAA even less of a player. Just think one day the artists and the fans might connect directly on the internet with no middle man in between to screw the artists and sue the fans.

      Their greed will be their undoing. I wonder why it hasn't been their undoing in the past though?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:42AM (#17183520)
        I have often wondered why the recording industry, faced with increasing competition from other distribution technologies, has not concluded that "recording" no longer is a viable business today.
        They should go out of business or enter into new ventures, instead of bitching all the time.

        I bet the association of Watt steam-enging manufacturers also experiences difficult times these days. But they don't try to blame the Otto internal combustion engine people all the time.
        • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:55AM (#17183802)
          The Newcomen Engine people are still pissed at the Watt people for breaking their monopoly on manually-operated steam engines.
        • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@@@castlesteelstone...us> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:24AM (#17184412) Homepage Journal
          I have often wondered why the recording industry, faced with increasing competition from other distribution technologies, has not concluded that "recording" no longer is a viable business today.

          Because they're making a huge profit?

          Because "new distribution technologies" is a thorn they faced before, and successfully got on the side of the law?

          Because the current law has adopted to aid their business model?

          Because, when you get right down to it, someone barely paying you for your work is better than someone NOT paying you for your work?
          • by StarvingSE (875139) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:42PM (#17185052)
            This is even more reason for having the artists and consumers connect directly. For example, go to Metallica's website, download non-drm tracks for a buck a pop or whatever, and metallica gets 100% of the money. Throw in merchandise sold directly through the same website and artists could stand to make a lot more money than with the RIAA. Yes, people will copy, put on filesharing, etc, but this has realistically been going on for ages. My friends and I used to get together for hours copying cassette tapes. I never once paid a dime for a commercially produced cassette. When cd's came out, I purchased these so that I could have a "collection" but people can copy them just as easily.

            The only difference is that before you couldn't really prove or be able to tell who copied that cassette tape. With the internet, you are given away by your ip address, giving the RIAA a basis to sue, and I fully believe it is simply to use their legal muscle to gain even more cash through the legal system.
            • by guice (907163) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:33PM (#17186394)
              Wow, Metallica finally learned? Took them long enough. Remember, they were the original artists FOR DRM based music and FOR strict control over their music and even FOR the RIAA. It would seem somebody has changed their tunes. Finally...
              • by nathanh (1214) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @05:39PM (#17187260) Homepage
                Wow, Metallica finally learned? Took them long enough. Remember, they were the original artists FOR DRM based music and FOR strict control over their music and even FOR the RIAA. It would seem somebody has changed their tunes. Finally...

                That's a misrepresentation of Metallica's position. Metallica has always had a relaxed attitude towards bootlegs. They even allowed people to plug their tape recorders into the mixing desk at concerts. They just asked that nobody copied their studio recorded music - you know, the recordings that are an expense to Metallica and their primary means of income. I considered it a reasonable request at the time; they weren't saying you couldn't make your own MP3s, or even trade their bootlegs, only that you didn't trade the studio recordings.

                Metallica was one of the first bands to offer high quality digital content to their fans, as a bonus download off their website when you bought their CDs. They have made available video and music files recorded at their concerts, all for free. They publish a huge quantity of material; a balance of music, video, movies and other paraphenalia that rewards those fans who want to know more about Metallica. Their concerts are amazing value for money; high energy and extremely well produced. Metallica treat their fans very well. In return they ask that you don't rip them off.

                The meme that "Metallica is anti MP3" is up there with "Gore invented the Internet" and "sue McDonalds for making coffee". It's a stupid lie that just won't die.

            • New artists benefit from the exposure of having their CDs appear in wal-mart, their songs get released and downloaded through ITunes, they get played on the radio. We need clearinghouses for music. There's no reason to accept the RIAA's constituents as that clearing-house, but certainly altering the system so that the mega-bands have an even greater systemic advantadge dosen't strike me as "fair" or "productive."
              -GiH
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by HermMunster (972336)
            If getting paid a little for your work rather than nothing is an acceptable model then something else is wrong with the artists. The artists need to find a way to rid themselves of the RIAA. The way the RIAA does it should be the exception for the artists, not the rule.

            The artists already pay for everything from manufacturing, to office work, to supplies, everything. If they make any money the RIAA takes it. The only time they make money is when they are a big hit. They are just stealing more money fro
      • by kripkenstein (913150) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:02AM (#17183828) Homepage
        Just think one day the artists and the fans might connect directly on the internet with no middle man in between to screw the artists and sue the fans.

        That day has already arrived, and it has brought little change. We already have lots of artists, mainly the kind who can't get signed up by a record label, who publish their work online. It is only the tiny minority that get signed up by a major record label that we hear about though, and they are precisely the ones who will not 'cut out the middleman', because for them, the RIAA actually do provide a service: they advertise and brainwash the public into liking those choice few artists who are blessed with RIAA's stamp, leading to a tiny minority of artists making virtually all of the income in the music industry. How many artists are played on MTV? Not many.

        [The RIAA's] greed will be their undoing. I wonder why it hasn't been their undoing in the past though?

        The problem is that the public is very easily controlled by advertising and the media. So long as that is true, the RIAA will be able to create a few 'big acts', and to get the public to listen only to them. A few 'big acts' are easily controlled by the RIAA, especially since those acts will only make money as long as the public is convinced that they like them - which is the only thing the RIAA is good at.

        In this media-driven age, I don't expect things to change anytime soon. But yes, cheap recording and publishing technology is helpful, even if only in a small way.
        • by Technician (215283) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:06PM (#17185706)
          The problem is that the public is very easily controlled by advertising and the media. So long as that is true, the RIAA will be able to create a few 'big acts', and to get the public to listen only to them.

          The internet where everyone is a publisher is changing the landscape. There are a few acts everyone is familiar with even though they got no MTV or Clearchannel airtime. My Space, YouTube, Google Video, and others are starting to give the cartel a run for the money.

          Are you still doubting? Ever heard of the Numa Numa guy? Has he ever been on MTV or a Clear Channel station?
          How about the dancing baby?, the Badger or Lama song?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jZnat (793348) *
          How many artists are played on MTV? Not many.
          MTV plays music?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Just think one day the artists and the fans might connect directly on the internet with no middle man in between to screw the artists and sue the fans.

        There are a few artists that do [rimbosity.com] that [audiobody.com], but really, what we need is a middleman [magnatune.com] (or two [mindawn.com]) that doesn't screw the artists and sue the fans. Take a good, hard look at MagnaTune [magnatune.com] -- even if you pay the lowest possible price ($5/album), 50% of it goes straight to the artist (and $2.50 is more than the RIAA will pay them), and you are legally allowed to share it with

    • Re:one would hope... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by joshetc (955226) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:39AM (#17183514)
      I would think it would be the exact opposite. In the last 25 years the cost of audio production equipment, cd presses (well equivelant to mainstream of yester-year) and printing presses (for inserts) have advanced dramatically and gone wait down in price. I think its about time artists begin recording their own music or grouping together for recordings then paying the labels a small cut for mass reproduction of their music...
    • It's about the marketing machine, not the actual process of printing and shipping CDs to stores anymore. Those costs are cheaper than ever, what's really driving up the cost for the industry is similar to what's driving up the costs for professional sports, salary and marketing costs. In order to get the 'next big thing', companies have to pay more and more to sign established and even 'up and coming' artists to bigger and bigger contracts. They also have to pay for the ever increasing costs to pay radi
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:06AM (#17183182)
    ...when the RIAA claims to do anything in the future for the sake of artists. They are not working for the artists as we all know, but this is a compelling argument detached from the copyright infringement case.
    • by JoostSchuttelaar (863737) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:34AM (#17183276)

      when the RIAA claims to do anything in the future for the sake of artists.
      The Recording Industry Association of America represents the recording industry, like record labels and distributors, not artists.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:54AM (#17183328)
        The Recording Industry Association of America represents the recording industry, like record labels and distributors, not artists.

        It's easy to get confused simply because they lie about it so much. "Won't somebody think of the starving artists!" is their main battle cry, not "Won't somebody think of the fat record company executives". However, it's also easy to avoid confusion by simply reminding yourself that they are lying weasels with the ethical standards of a rat. Never take anything they say at face value and you won't get misled (as often).
      • by Maestro4k (707634) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:05AM (#17183374) Journal
        The Recording Industry Association of America represents the recording industry, like record labels and distributors, not artists.

        Yes, but they like to use the artists for sympathy in their anti-piracy propaganda. But don't take my word for it, check out this page on their website [riaa.com] where we have the following (emphasis added):

        Though it would appear that record companies are still making their money and that artists are still getting rich, these impressions are mere fallacies. Each sale by a pirate represents a lost legitimate sale, thereby depriving not only the record company of profits, but also the artist, producer, songwriter, publisher, retailer, ... and the list goes on.

        ...

        Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the creative artists lose. Musicians, singers, songwriters and producers don't get the royalties and fees they've earned. Virtually all artists (95%) depend on these fees to make a living. The artists also depend on their reputations, which are damaged by the inferior quality of pirated copies sold to the public.

        So yes, they DO claim they're doing this for the sake of the artists, you and the grandparent are both correct. The RIAA are claiming to be fighting piracy at least partially for the artists' benefit (although note it says "perhaps most importantly" about the artists) while at the same time trying to stab the artists in the back (again) by lowering their royalties even though they say that 95% of artists depend on those royalties to make a living. That last bit about artists' reputations suffering from sales of inferior quality pirated copies is kinda questionable in this day and age. A pirated CD should sound the same as the real thing, sometimes better since they'll remove any DRM crap from it.

        Personally I don't see how they do it, having a soul-ectomy must be a job requirement.

        • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:08AM (#17183870) Homepage
          The artists also depend on their reputations, which are damaged by the inferior quality of pirated copies sold to the public.
          Bullshit. If I buy a pirated CD and it skips, I know it's because the pirate didn't use a good blank, or burned it too fast; if I download an MP3 and it sounds tinny or muffled, I know it's because it was poorly compressed; but if I go to a store, buy a CD, and it doesn't work on some players, can't be ripped, or infects my computer with malware... now THAT is sure to make one stop buying legit CDs completely!
          • by MurphyZero (717692) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:37PM (#17186424)
            I need mod points because you hit it right on the nail. If you deal with illegal activities, you expect the chance to be burned. But when you deal with supposedly legal activities, you expect to get value in return and not be burned. We have federal organizations to deal with Taco Bell, but if there is no recourse to shady dealings from the legal source, then the RIAA should expect nothing less than severe backlash, whether it be pirated CDs, internet sharing, or what I suspect most people have done: stop buying new albums. I haven't done any downloading in years, mainly because I got the songs I wanted and there's nothing good coming out via the labels.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Yvan256 (722131)

          That last bit about artists' reputations suffering from sales of inferior quality pirated copies is kinda questionable in this day and age. A pirated CD should sound the same as the real thing, sometimes better since they'll remove any DRM crap from it.

          Unless it's some really weird DRM I haven't heard about, it shouldn't affect the sound quality at all. DRM is about protecting/locking the data, not the actual audio output. A DRM'ed file should output the exact same audio data as the non-DRM'ed file, if both

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Storklerk (529418)
      ...when the RIAA claims to do anything in the future for the sake of artists.
      Also refer to this article the next time they claim that the artists are starving because of the pirates.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Iriestx (1033648)
      ...when the RIAA claims to do anything in the future for the sake of artists. They are not working for the artists as we all know, but this is a compelling argument detached from the copyright infringement case.
      Hey, lawyers are artists too.. right?
    • Oblig. article links (Score:5, Informative)

      by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@NoSpAm.dantian.org> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:51AM (#17183790)
      They are not working for the artists as we all know, but this is a compelling argument detached from the copyright infringement case.

      Just to add to this, here are articles by different artists about being ripped off:

      Steve Albini [negativland.com]
      Courtney Love [salon.com]
      Steve Vai [vai.com]
  • by arun_s (877518) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:10AM (#17183192) Homepage Journal
    They say that the rates (which were placed in 1981) don't apply the same way to new technologies.
    Technology has made it easier for the distribution of media. Its them who should be getting lesser 'royalties' for each copy sold, not the artists.
    • Technology has made it easier for the distribution of media. Its them who should be getting lesser 'royalties' for each copy sold, not the artists.

      I don't know... I despise the RIAA as much as the next guy, but doesn't it make sense to pay less royalties for a song used as a ringtone, compared to what you'd pay for the full quality version meant to be listened to? On the other hand... the last thing we need is ringtones becoming cheaper.

      I couldn't really tell from the article what the RIAA intends exa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moranar (632206)

        Paying less royalties for different quality would lead to a classification of media we don't need at all. Think of the opposite situation: recording agencies would then be in the position to ask a higher price for "superior" media like DVDs or CDs. A creation is a creation no matter what the media or quality is (as long as it is recognizable, of course).

        • I am referring not to a classification of media, but to a classification of application, which already exists. Royalties are different for consumer CDs, radio plays, music played in bars, cover versions for karaoke or elevator muzac, etc. This is the same song being used in different ways, under different royalty schemes. Why not an additional schedule for ringtones, which are arguably a whole new application of recorded music?

          Of course the question is what the RIAA is really after. Do they want diff
      • doesn't it make sense to pay less royalties for a song used as a ringtone, compared to what you'd pay for the full quality version meant to be listened to?

        Given that the artist's effort was the same to produce the idea that becomes the song anyway, I am not sure. If you meant that one should pay less for a reduced quality item, then the artist/publisher ratio should remain the same for a ringtone, reducing its overall cost. It seems instead that publishers want the ratio to change.
      • by norton_I (64015)
        The article says "ringtones and other digital recordings" which might imply that it was refering to all digital recordings (both iTunes and ringtones). While it is true that digital music services may cost less than CDs, they should really pass the savings onto the publishers -- it costs the same to produce the music whether sold as a CD or mp3, but the distribution costs are lower for the mp3. Ringtones I could believe (since they are of less value than the full, high quality recording) should earn the m
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Halo1 (136547)

        On the other hand... the last thing we need is ringtones becoming cheaper.

        They probably would not get cheaper, but the RIAA's members would get a bigger share of the pie at the expense of the artists.

      • by aussie_a (778472)
        Not really. The ringtones themselves are cheaper so therefore the artist already gets less royalties then they would for a proper song. Oh and what the RIAA intends is quite obvious. They intend to pocket the money and if anything increase the price of ringtones.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CatoNine (638960)
      Damn, you beat me to it stating the obvious :-).
      Electronic distrbution costs the distributers nothing other than a sales rep signing the contract and an accountant raking in the cash. De telco's, iTunes', etc. and the *customer* pay for the distribution. Artists shoud seriously wonder what the added value of the distributors is here.
    • by Cordath (581672) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:35AM (#17183492)
      The major labels had a legitimate niche back when it took a massive distibution network to press an artists records and deliver them to record stores across the world. Today, distribution is a non-issue. It used to take massive ammounts of money to produce a good recording. Today, all the equipment that is required can be bought for less than a modest car. In fact, many major label recordings made today are of substantially lower quality than those of independants. It's not just the equipment, but the people using it. If upper-management orders the knob-jockeys to "make it louder" that's what they do, even if it means mixing tracks so hot that they clip continually. The labels remain the masters of big-budget promotion, but some bands have managed to be successful as independants with a tiny fraction of the promotion budget that a major label band gets. How do they do it? Make good music.

      In all honesty, the labels aren't good for consumers. They stifle creativity and promote the stagnation of musical forms by promoting "safe" music over the innovative. This is why a top-40 music station sounds so homogenous whether it's playing pop-country, pop-rock, or pop-rap. Instead of promoting original artists, they hire 40 year old men to write songs about a teenage girl's life, hire a model who can't sing to sing those songs, and then digitally correct the tone-deaf waif's caterwallings in much the same way they air-brush away her zits and about 40 pounds. Then they promote this manufactured crap so heavily that it squeezes good music into the musical margins of life.

      The labels aren't good for artists. Only a tiny percentage of artists signed to major labels ever make a profit. Most wind up in debt to the labels with no control over the rights to their own creations. Is the purpose of a record label to make money for itself or is it to make money for the artists? In the past RIAA has argued that artists provide a service, much like recording engineers or the squeegee monkeys that keep the windows of the exec's corner offices clean. They pay their lawyers better than 99.999% of their artists. Those lawyers enforce a copyright system designed to pump money into those corner offices at any cost. One of the costs happens to be the freedom of artists. Take the amen break for example. A whole musical genre grew up around a single sample made 40 years ago because the copyright on it was never enforced. What legally aborted genres might exist today were it not for the labels' lawyers?

      Personally, I think RIAA and the major labels know all this. They know they have no legitimate role to play in distribution. They know they manufacture and promote crap because promoting original music carries risk. They screw the artists both financially and creatively. On some level, although they'd never admit it, they even realize that the labels are, at the most fundamental level, only there to get the music from the artist to the consumer and the money from the consumer to the artist. They're middlemen and they know it.

      How do you improve any business transaction for both the consumer and the supplier? Cut out the middlemen.

      • by Legion303 (97901)
        "Take the amen break for example. A whole musical genre grew up around a single sample made 40 years ago because the copyright on it was never enforced."

        Technically correct, but let's be accurate as well. I can think of a good 5 genres that sprang up around the Amen break in various forms (sped up, slowed down, reversed, etc.) off the top of my head.
      • Just thought I should mention that upper management doesn't have a hand in the final production mastering, unless it is to deliberately make a recording sound poor.

        All the licensed, mastered CDs I've heard have sounded better than an indie band's recording.

        There's a reason some of the EQ settings on the soundboards have little plastic boxes cemented around the nob.

        So technically speaking, the production quality is unparallel. But as we all know and can hear, that means nothing for content.
  • by Soloact (805735) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:13AM (#17183206) Homepage Journal
    The royalty schedule was implemented to encourage artists to continue with music by being able to make a reasonable living of the trade. These payments were increased so that the artists would actually receive money, instead of constantly owing the recording companies and thus being enslaved by them. The companies also, for years, "enslaved" the songwriters by signing them to publishing contracts, then claiming the works as IP. This is why I support independent musicians and songwriters. By lowering the royalties that are currently being paid, grudgingly by the recording companies to the artists involved, would be yet another huge backward step in the creative arts. Quite sad to see these sort of things in the works. I hope those pushing for the reductions fail in their quest. Would also be great if it was reversed, and increases in royalties paid to the artists resulted.
    • by Znork (31774)
      Why not scrap the whole concept of copyright on music and replace it full out with a mandatory point-of-sale/broadcast royalty? Sure, it would drive a stake through the heart of the RIAA vampires, but it would restore competition in the sector and greatly benefit consumers and artists. Even more so for independents (and music lovers), as the removal of exclusive rights would greatly diminish the value of excessive marketing, leading to a wider diversity and more widespread distribution of royalties.
      • I would love to see compulsory, non-discriminatory, licensing for copyright works. If you want to publish something, you have to publish it to everyone. If you don't, then you get trade secrets protection instead.
  • by achesterase (918544) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:15AM (#17183212)
    But with the same argumentation, wouldn't one then also come to the conclusion that CD prices are massively inflated, as are prices for the DRM-laden digital variants?
  • WTF? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Dracos (107777)

    Even a 10 year old running a lemonade stand could see that this logic doesn't have a hole, because it is a hole.

    So, we officially need to find a replacement word for the first A in RIAA, because it doesn't standa for Artists anymore. I suggest something like this:

    Recording Industry Asshats of America.

    If this doesn't get the artists' attention, nothing will. I wonder what Lars thinks about it. He managed to sue Napster out of any meaningful existence, maybe he can be of use here. It's not like Met

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

      by advocate_one (662832) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:40AM (#17183296)
      So, we officially need to find a replacement word for the first A in RIAA, because it doesn't standa for Artists anymore. I suggest something like this:

      It never stood for "Artists" in the first place... It for "association"... as in "Record Industry Association of America" [riaa.com]

      Follow the link and be amazed... the Artists DO NOT feature in the RIAA's thoughts at all, they're only concern is for the publishing rights holders as in the publishers, not the artists.

      The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members' creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.
  • Finally, there is something I agree with the RIAA on (assuming their intentions are to reduce costs to the consumer). Publishers, and to a certain extent artists (mainstream) tend to over charge for their IP which partially results in higher CD costs and this results in extensive piracy. Not only that, the over inflated royalties are charged to movie companies developing their soundtracks which pass on those extra costs to the consumer resulting in over priced movie tickets/rentals/dvds which further driv
  • by curebox (985425) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:27AM (#17183258) Homepage Journal
    12/08/06: Warner CEO slaps own child on wrist [tinymixtapes.com]
    11/28/06: Pressure on AllofMp3 [techdirt.com]
    11/22/06: Pressure on the RIAA [weblogsinc.com]
  • by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:40AM (#17183294)
    First I read the slashdot article, and thought to myself "okay, the editors are smoking crack again".

    Then I read the referenced article.

    I owe the editors an apology for my mistaken assumption.

    From TFA:
    As quoted by The Hollywood Reporter,"Mechanical royalties currently are out of whack with historical and international rates," RIAA executive VP and General Counsel Steven Marks said. "We hope the judges will restore the proper balance by reducing the rate and moving to a more flexible percentage rate structure so that record companies can continue to create the sound recordings that drive revenues for music publishers."


    In other words, the RIAA has actually admitted what most Slashdotters have know all along - their crusade is concerned strictly with the "revenues for music publishers", and if enhancing said revenues means screwing the artists, then so be it.

    Another point: "...so that record companies can continue to create the sound recordings...". Since when did record companies start creating anything? They take the creations of the artists, slap their name on them, and bleed off the majority of the profits for themselves.

    I thought that the RIAA couldn't possibly sink any lower - looks like I was wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Legion303 (97901)
      It would be great if a judge looked at this case, weighed the evidence, then said "ACTUALLY, RIAA, I'm assigning all royalties to the people who create the music, with the exception of a small stipend to pay you for lawyers' fees, since that's your sole function these days. Now shut the fuck up and get out of my courtroom before I have you all shot."

      Well, I can dream.
    • by melikamp (631205)

      Since when did record companies start creating anything?

      Well, creating a recording is not the same as creating music. It used to be expensive and difficult, accessible only to people with proper budgets. But if that is the only thing that RIAA is doing for us, then god help them. These days almost anyone can afford a quality digital recording, and they can do it without leaving their garage. Even when a band has no money at all, having any kind of popularity should allow it to mooch a recording session o

  • Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AngstAndGuitar (732149) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:55AM (#17183332)
    When music creation becomes unprofitable, only those who seek to do it out of love will persist.
    I really think that we'll see an improvement in the quality of music as a result of this.
    • by evilviper (135110)
      I really think that we'll see an improvement in the quality of music as a result of this.

      And on what evidence are you basing this conclusion?

      All the non-RIAA music I've come across has been significantly worse, at best.

      How could NOT getting paid to make music, possibly make the music any better?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All RIAA members have to do is to lower their share of the revenue. That'll get the price down no problem (as it's the majority part), thus also addressing that piracy problem they're so worried about (nothing to do with promoting mainly crap, nooo). And it would thus result in less damages caused by dead people, grandmothers and children because the per song costs would be lower - hell, it may then not even be worth suing them and being made to look ridiculous in the first place.

    And lower income would st
  • What? They're not starving enough yet to justify the piracy comments?
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:00AM (#17183354) Homepage
    Most times they screw the consumer for the artist.

    But this time, given the popularity of ringtones, they're screwing the artist for the children.
  • Eh...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:05AM (#17183378)
    the RIAA maintains that in the modern period when piracy began devastating the record industry profits to publishers from sales of ringtones and other 'innovative services' grew dramatically.

    Is it just me or does this sentence make no fucking sense?
    • the RIAA maintains that in the modern period when piracy began devastating the record industry profits to publishers from sales of ringtones and other 'innovative services' grew dramatically.

      Is it just me or does this sentence make no fucking sense?

      Here's the proper decomposition:

      the RIAA maintains that (in the modern period when piracy began devastating the record industry) profits to publishers from sales of ringtones and other 'innovative services' grew dramatically.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dunbal (464142)
      Is it just me or does this sentence make no fucking sense?

            After all the coke they've done, you expect it to make sense?
  • After all, dead artist signing petition for a longer copyright protection do not need that much money, so the royalty can be lowered.
  • by ponderance (1032902) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:13AM (#17183634) Homepage
    This truly makes me furious. This is just one reason I've chosen to stay independent. Granted the only choices I've had were smaller labels like Grey Flat and Saddle Creek. This is truly a disgusting move by the RIAA. It's not bad enough they're making the publicity stunt lawsuits against perpetrators of free advertising (file downloaders), now they need to cut even more from their artists. Just like when the MPAA started their "want a backup copy? buy one." comments in press meetings, this makes me want to remember to "engage in piracy." Thank you, Capitalism. Thank you.
  • For fucks sake, no. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jb.hl.com (782137) <joe@joe-baldwiBOHRn.net minus physicist> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:33AM (#17183692) Homepage Journal
    Just, no. Greedy fuckers. If anything the royalty rates need raising to apply to new technologies, considering how much revenue the industry and artists are losing from people downloading instead of buying.

    Absolutely fucking disgusting.
  • wtf? (Score:2, Insightful)

    "According to The Hollywood Reporter, the RIAA maintains that in the modern period when piracy began devastating the record industry profits to publishers from sales of ringtones and other 'innovative services' grew dramatically. Record industry executives believe this to be cause to advocate reducing the royalties paid to the artists who wrote the original music."

    Let me get this straight - record industry profits were devasted when profits from 'innovative services' dramatically grew ?

    Talk about contradict

  • by VoxCombo (782935) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:19AM (#17183906)
    The article headline is wrong. Artist royalties are paid by record labels to recording artists for use of their recordings.

    The article is referring to MECHANICAL ROYALTIES which are paid to SONGWRITERS for use of their songs. While the songwriter and artist are often the same, this is not always the case

    EXAMPLE: Joe Schmoe writes a song that is recorded by Britney Spears for her new album. Britney Spears gets paid artist royalties by the record label. Joe Schmoe get paid mechanical royalties by the label.

    The article is talking about reducing Joe Schmoe's royalties
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:21AM (#17183928) Journal
    I don't use them myself as I don't like using the phone in general, but I hear enough of other peoples ring tones to know:

    There is not enough of a tone sequence to pay a royality on. Only enough to play the game "what ring tone is that from?"

    Seriously, it may just barely step over the copyright line by linke three notes of something BUT there is the fair use clause.
    And considering the most useful thing about ring tones is having a different one than everyone else around you, its not like they are of much valueto share.

    Maybe you have collectors of ring tone (like you did with amiga mod files - but even then a mod file is at least a whole song) and perhaps The RIAA should push legistration for requiring collectors to register (get a collector license) or something.

    Another thought is that ring tone users, should charge the RIAA for using their phone as an advertising media, like ads on your web site and getting paid for clicks...

    But in no case should RIAA be able to use ring tones as an excuse to lower the royalities the artist get. If anythinhg they shoul increase them if they are not paying the phone users for advertising space.

    Somebody really needs to lay it all out and really slap the RIAA down via exposure of their hyporacies.

    To be clear, there is no reason with todays technology to subsidize new band promotional risks with the profits off the successful artist (one of the reason we having had enough real creativity on the air). What this means is that the profits/finances the record industry needed in the past to bring new artists to the public with hope the public will buy, doesn't need to be spent today as the internet is alot less expensive and artist can themselves get a following to prove themselves and have bargaining power with any contract they might sign with a label. The fact they did it themselves should show they are serious and business oriented. This path greatly reduces the need to subsidize and mean the successful artist should get more... not less (as they are not helping tro pay for other unknow artist to be market tested)

    Maybe that is the problem here! Maybe the new technology is resulting in successful artist annual income to be raising and the RIAA figures it can take some of it but need an excuse (and we all know they do make use of excuses/lies to support their claims).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by John Hasler (414242)
      > Seriously, it may just barely step over the copyright line by linke three
      > notes of something BUT there is the fair use clause.

      Please read up on what fair use actually is. Ringtones would never qualify.
  • by sorak (246725) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:54PM (#17185144)

    Wow, usually when someone tries to screw every party in an attempt to line their pockets, they tell the artists that they are trying to make more moeny, so they can give more to the artists, and they tell the consumer that they are trying to lower prices so they can be competitive

    Not here, however. Now they are pretty honest about their intentions. They want to give those who produce music the shaft on what they consider to be their biggest money-maker, and they are doing it so they can make more money...No noble intent, no "starving people in Hollywood" scenarios...just greed... I wonder if the brief ever mentioned the RIAA's desire to do a Scrooge McDuck-style swim in a pool full of money...

    The recording industry is a bunch of middle-men, plain and simple. They are trying to screw artists and collect taxes on everything related to music, because they know that the only thing they have going for them is that their parent companies own the music stores, which are, also, not doing very well.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:04PM (#17185692) Homepage

    This is part of an ongoing dispute between the Harry Fox Agency [harryfox.com], the RIAA, and the ringtone industry over compulsory licenses.

    The recording industry in the US has a statutory deal in the Copyright Act which allows them to re-record previously published songs (i.e. issue "cover albums") by paying a fixed royalty determined by Congress and the Librarian of Congress. This is called a "compulsory license". Most music publishers are represented by the Harry Fox Agency, which actually issues the "compulsory license" on request and collects and redistributes the royalties.

    Then came ringtones. The Harry Fox Agency, in 2004, took the position that the compulsory license required by law does not cover ringtones. [harryfox.com] This was a bogus position, and on October 16, 2006, the Registrar of Copyrights ruled that ringtones are subject to the compulsory license [cll.com]. The Harry Fox Agency is taking this badly; "This decision has no effect on HFA's existing policy that DPD licenses ... do not cover ... ringtones or mastertones. [harryfox.com] The RIAA is sueing them, and HFA is probably going to lose this one.

    This is really a very obscure issue even in the music industry. In the end, ringtones might get cheaper, and we may see the end of that silly distinction in the cellphone world between downloaded tracks and ringtones.

  • "Music is art" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by UnixSphere (820423) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:44PM (#17186054)
    Sure it is, the way they pump out artists with modifications to their vocals and all the industry music magic they use. That's not art, that's a product being produced just the same way a Ford Mustang is produced on an assembly line.
  • To Rephrase (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Miseph (979059) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:15PM (#17186256) Journal
    So, what they're saying is something like: "Our old business model of raping and pillaging artists and selling their work at hyper-inflated prices to a consumer public that has very few other choices, most fairly difficult to do, if they want music, is failing miserably. So we've started finding new ways to sell the same media in ways that the consumer public, once again, has very few other choices with, most fairly difficult to do, which lets our old business model live for a few more years while the public again finds a way to circumvent paying us through the nose for the labors of others. Somehow we think this means that we should pay our indentured serv... ah, that is to say the artists - you know, the guys who we keep claiming are the ones hurt by piracy, even though nearly all musicians who make a lot of money do so primarily with live performance, a format which is inherently unpiratable and has seen absolutely no loss of profitability - deserve to be paid less for their hard work. We justify this with the fact that Chewbacca is a 7' Wookie, and Endor is populated with Ewoks, and that doesn't make any sense. Seriously."
  • This is just the RIAA attempting to rein in yet more control of the artists under their power. The movie studios in the 20's and 30's did the same thing to thier artists before the the actors finally stood up to the studios and formed the precursor to SAG and brought the studio system to its knees. Perhaps this is what is needed in the music industry now. If the musicians and artists took a stand and united against the RIAA perhaps they would actually get fair monies for their talent, own their own music, and not have to be contracted for pennies while the Labels make millions on their names.

    -my drachma

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley

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