Media Policy & Intellectual Property
Arts and Industries Policy Forum Background Reports
Curb Center white papers provide insight into the discussion around Radio Deregulation and Consolidation and Reconsidering the Performance Right.
Laws and regulation around intellectual property and media consolidation are one of the most important cultural policy issues of the 21st century. Topics of interest range broadly—from assessing piracy in developing countries to file sharing on college campuses; the viability of record labels to the market opportunities for mobile technology; the remuneration of songwriters to the success of blockbuster film studios; smashups to Youtube; Flickr to Facebook; royalties on Beatles songs to accessing our country’s most iconic photographs.
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From the beginning, radio regulation has utilized the language of social policy to describe a set of public interest outcomes. However, while remaining faithful to the language of social benefit, regulators have increasingly employed the economic strategy of deregulation to achieve long-stated policy goals. Today, a few major companies dominate America’s national and local radio markets. Is this good for business? Is this in the public interest?
After years of relatively peaceful coexistence, the careful balance among the various stakeholders was upset in the 1990s with the large-scale convergence of personal computing, digital music, and the Internet. Recording artists and record companies in particular viewed digital audio transmissions (both legal transmissions and pirated downloads) as free substitutes for traditional record sales—which threatened their livelihood. Songwriters and music publishers, however, were less concerned; they felt reasonably assured that they would be fairly compensated in the new digital environment. Why? The difference in the two reactions goes to the heart of U.S. copyright law and the concept of the performance right.