Bad news for anyone who listens to internet radio: the Perform Act was recently harkened back down to earth from legislative purgatory. If you don't recall what this nasty bill (formerly S.2644, now S.256) entails, allow me to get your blood boiling.
Music industry bigwigs like the RIAA somehow convinced California Senator Diane Feinstein (and a few others) that internet and satellite radio stations are acting as music distribution services (read: music download services), and as such, should cough up even more licensing fees, as well as abandon MP3 streaming in favor of a DRM-heavy audio format to thwart the apparent piracy that is happening.
Traditionally, and ahem, rationally, radio stations (even internet stations) have been considered "music performance" outlets. We play music, listeners hear the music. This happens over the air, and now over the internet. Radio stations with internet streams pay two types of "performance royalties" in return: one for playing music over the air, the other for playing music over the internet. Satellite radio has their own set fee schedule for performance royalties.
There is a commonly-held fear in Washington that thousands of evil web pirates have automated programs that can record internet and satellite radio, isolate individual songs by particular artists from those streams and transmissions, and then illegally redistribute those songs all over the internet. Essentially, the RIAA is blaming internet and satellite radio for widespread music piracy on the web, and they've even convinced a few legislators that this is actually happening. Last time I checked, the easiest and fastest way to add a song to my favorite P2P network was by converting the actual CD track to MP3. But what do I know? Senators are clearly experts when it comes to the internet.
If the Perform Act is passed, online radio stations will be forced to abandon the high-quality and universally-accepted streaming MP3 format, and instead adopt a DRM-laden alternative to squelch the possibility of an evil web pirate scenario like the one described above. Paranoid? Extremely. But this is the RIAA we're talking about, after all. They sue dead people for downloading music.
The resurrected Perform Act is the RIAA's thinly veiled attempt to extort money from radio stations and impose unnecessarily troublesome technological mandates by criminalizing streaming online and satellite radio. We urge you to write to your senators, and let them know that a vote for the Perform Act is a vote against online and satellite radio, as well as a vote against technological progress.