Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Internet Freedom

Representative Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island), along with Rep. Don Manzullo (R) Illinois, want to save independent internet radio. The "Internet Radio Equality Act" would nullify a law set to take effect in July, which would essentially wipe out operators of smaller, independently owned Internet radio stations.

According to a recent Newsweek article, over 50 million people listen to Internet radio, and apparently corporations hadn't yet found a way to make a killing on it.

In March, though, our Free Market or Bust government put an end to that. The Copyright Royalty Board, at the behest of SoundExchange (A royalty collection agency for the recording industry), decided to drastically incresase royalty fees--anywhere between 300%-1200%. This, would have the practical effect of driving smaller Internet radio station operators out of business.

What this means to you: Instead of hearing news and music from all over, you would hear exactly the same focus-grouped set of manufactured music and selected newsbits from the same newsgrinders we already have, just packaged differently for you geeky internet folk. But now, corporations have a bigger piece of the pie. There, isn't that better? More American?

This corporatist effort isn't limited to the Internet, of course. The latest postal rate increase similarly has the "accidental" effect of driving smaller operators out of business. Further afield in the dairy industry, the same "crush the independents" movement has prevailed in King and Whatcom counties, and elsewhere.

It is troubling enough that economic monopolies are being encouraged through a "get bigger or get out" mentality in the auto industry, in the clothing industry, in agriculture and manufacturing. But when a monopoly of communication is created in the guise of economic competition, we lose the voice of the people. We must not let this happen.

And we've already lost so much in the past seven years, haven't we? Say goodbye to habaeus corpus, privacy, peace, surplus, the Geneva Conventions, First Amendment, Second Amendment, intelligent political discourse, and on and on.

Fortunately for us here in Washington, Jay Inslee gets it. For him to introduce this bill is at once observant and courageous. There aren't enough people in Congress like Inslee willing to make this sort of stand about something so elemental to our democracy as our right to speak to each other publicly--and to protect that right jealously. He has our support; he should have yours, too.

For further information and comment:

Seattle Times Editorial
Seattle P-I Editorial
Music industry news and updates

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