Okay, a lot of you probably already know the history of SoundExchange, but I want to make sure everyone's caught up so we can all understand the tangled mess of ass-sucking going here. So, ready, steady, go -- here's an abbreviated history lesson:
Acronyms are fun right? SRCO, SRCO, SRCO. Whatever does that acronym mean? Well, SRCO stands for Sound Recording Copyright Owners, and prior to 1995, SRCOs (a.k.a. musicians, artists, record labels) didn't receive performance royalties if their music was used in "public performances," such as on the radio. Eventually, both The Digital Performance in Sound Recordings Act (1995) and The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) were passed, securing royalties for artists whose work was publicly "performed."
Fast-forward to the year 2000. The great music industry leaders known as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) created SoundExchange, a division of the RIAA, which later spun off into its own "independent" organization. Magically, SoundExchange became the only organization allowed by the Copyright Office to distribute due royalties to artists and record labels, or SRCOs (sound recording copyright owners, remember?). Basically, SoundExchange is an independent nonprofit entity that collects money on behalf of artists.
Now to the new stuff: according to Wired's blog, SoundExchange was caught lobbying. Question: How in the fuck can a nonprofit organization lobby? Well, according to the law, it can't. SoundExchange is only supposed to collect money on behalf of SRCOs and not for public relations.
So, how do we know its involved in lobbying and public relations? Well, we first need to talk about one more entity, the musicFIRST Coalition. The musicFIRST Coalition is another annoying group using another annoying acronym. This time, the acronym FIRST stands for Fairness In Radio Starting Today. Right, whatever. It's a public relations organization that started up back in June of this year. Its ultimate goal is to get congress to pass a law, mandating that big radio stations pay up to the big boys of the RIAA. Even Celine Dion is part of the coalition. Wait! Celine Dion? This must mean the RIAA is a part of the coalition as well? Not the same guys who had the balls to arrest 16-year-old girls for using P2P programs to download some Papa Roach, is it!? Oh, my friends, the very same. The RIAA is part of this coalition as well. Wow!
So, here's how SoundExchange (a nonprofit) and musicFIRST (a public relations group) are related:
- SoundExchange is listed as a member on musicFIRST's homepage.
- SoundExchange supports musicFIRST financially (the amount remains undisclosed).
- SoundExchange and musicFIRST are both inextricable from the RIAA.
- SoundExchange owns musicFIRST's homepage... Wait. What? Oh my children, just go here and type in "musicFIRSTcoalition.org" into the text field. Scroll down a little bit and you'll see this:
Hey, SoundExchange, is your nonprofit ass supporting a lobbying organization called the musicFIRST Coalition with your money? I'm afraid this doesn't make any sense and is, in fact, may very well be against the law (can I get a lawyer?).
SoundExchange is helping target the land radio stations for royalty collection, using nonprofit money for their own agendas. If they're already getting away with shoddy shit like this, then the Copyright Royalty Board is no better. The Copyright Royalty Board was meant to be a neutral government body that monitors SoundExchange, a neutral organization. None of this sounds very neutral.
With all this lobbying talk, it's no wonder why SaveNetRadio is having such a hard time getting the Internet Radio Equality Act through.
Fred Wilhelms, a well-known entertainment lawyer (you know him, right?), wrote a letter to SoundExchange. Here's an excerpt:
I happen to believe, based on my own reading of the law, the lobbying efforts do exceed the legislative and regulatory authority given to SoundExchange. I also believe that the lobbying activity on a matter outside the scope of SoundExchange’s original charter constitutes a violation of the 501 (c) (6) tax-exemption held by SoundExchange