The Washington Post today ran an article on the continuing Internet radio royalty battle – highlighting the service Pandora and the fact that it will likely go out of business if the current dispute about royalties is not resolved. We wrote (here and here) about many of these same issues in our coverage of the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. What is notable about the article is its mention of settlement discussions that are being conducted under the supervision of Congressman Berman of the House Judiciary Committee. But the article also makes clear that the disconnect continues between the perception of the recording industry and of the Internet radio industry on the revenue potential of Internet radio. The differing perception continues to make settlement difficult, as the recording industry keeps complaining that the industry has not done enough to monetize their operations – and the Internet radio companies express frustration at that attitude. If there was some way of making more money from Internet radio operations, doesn’t the recording industry think that the webcasters would take advantage of those practices? Why would they leave money on the table if they could figure out a way to make it? If they could make money, they would – though the recording industry seems not to believe it.
The other issue that the article overlooks is that the settlement discussions that are going on are apparently the same settlement discussions referenced at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing – those between the recording industry and the large webcasters. But there are many other groups involved in webcasting – the small commercial webcasters that I have worked with in the Copyright Royalty Board proceeding, the broadcasters who also stream their programs, and noncommercial webcasters (including NPR affiliates, religious broadcasters and other noncommercial entities). There is no discussion in the article of any talks with them and, as set out in the written testimony at the Judiciary Committee of Kurt Hanson of Accuradio, the small commercial webcasters have heard nothing from SoundExchange in months. A resolution by the large webcasters, unless it is all encompassing and on terms that all parties can live with (which seems unlikely given the diverse interests involved), will not resolve the dispute over the CRB decision. So the battle continues.