You’ll recall that the recording industry appeared to have won a one-sided mediation to set royalty rates for Internet radio broadcasts. Rates were chosen that were far higher than rates for conventional radio stations – high enough to put virtually all Internet broadcasters out of business.

The Librarian of Congress had final authority to set the rates, and didn’t approve the mediator’s ruling. Today he announced that the rates would be one-half the rates proposed by the mediator – still punishingly high, but it’s plausible that the Internet broadcasters with the deepest pockets will stay in business. Here’s an article about the ruling – still subject to more appeals, of course.

Now, I hope this is obvious, but let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. The recording industry has defined a “victory” as some act that prevents us from listening to their product. Their “victory” over Internet radio broadcasters would have completely cut off our access to online radio stations. Their “victory” over file sharing programs prevents us from downloading new songs to decide if we like them. Their “victory” in Congress will come when we are prevented from buying devices that will let us listen to music while we jog. And monopoly control over conventional radio stations ensures that we can’t hear 99% of the recording industry’s new products on the radio.

I like new music. I buy new music. But I only buy it if I can hear it first. From the mid-80s to the mid-90s, I didn’t buy a thing because I had no reasonable way to hear new music. I’ve bought more new music each year since Napster and its progeny arrived than I did during that entire ten-year period put together.

The recording industry’s business plan makes me want to read books and see movies and forget about new music for another ten years. How in the world did these goons wind up in control?

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