Monday, May 7, 2007

Communications Control

There are two things that are happening in communications regulation lately:
  • Pandora has been fighting a campaign to save Internet radio. A recent ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board has determined that Internet radio (apparently in an extreme departure from regular radio) cannot play copyrighted music on the Internet, even if it's for the purposes of streaming. This causes popular sites like Pandora to go under, if they must pay for each song that a user accesses. For more on why copyright is overrated, read Wendy Kaminer's column in TAP and the (somewhat) recent New Yorker article on the Google Books project.
  • The Post Office is planning to put a higher rate on publications under a certain circulation, essentially in an effort to "tax the poor." This is one that affects many of the magazines I actually read. I'm sure it made sense to the Postal board at the time -- give high-volume senders a discount -- but this is the same reason why Wal-Mart shuts out small stores.
It seems as if the young listeners to Pandora effectively delayed a decision on this copyright situation, but it's questionable whether the aging readers of small publications like TAP, The Nation, and a number of others will be able to affect such change.

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