Trying to tighten Internet broadcasting

The PERFORM Act would take away the rights that consumers have had for years.

Don’t look now. The major labels are trying to squeeze even more money out of the system. The groups responsible for thousands of file-sharing lawsuits are up to their old antics, this time with the help of Congress. Together they’re trying to clamp down on Internet broadcasting.

The PERFORM Act (Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act of 2006), which was recently reintroduced to Congress, will make it illegal in most instances to broadcast streaming content such as podcasts and satellite radio in MP3 format. It will also make it illegal to process content that has been downloaded by users. For instance, users won’t be able to edit their podcasts anymore.

Supporters think the bill is necessary because consumers have the ability to turn streaming content into reusable content. According to them, if Congress doesn’t outlaw the practice, it will “blow a hole in the digital marketplace.” Which ultimately leads to, we assume, plummeting profits, mass starvation by industry executives and major label artists, not to mention the slow, unjust death of the music industry as we know it.

But who is the one stealing content? This is the same argument used by the motion picture industry against home video recording in the 1970s and ’80s. In similar fashion, they thought the VCR would ruin their business model and mark the end of the American motion picture. So they went to court on the grounds that the VCR allowed copyright infringement. Surprisingly, they almost won. If it weren’t for the Supreme Court, the right to home recording wouldn’t exist.

Congress shouldn’t take away the rights that consumers have had for years. We can record songs off of the radio for free – the Internet should be no different. It’s not like this is Napster. Internet broadcasters already pay twice as many royalties as radio broadcasters. It’s only a matter of the major record labels wanting more money. Congress shouldn’t bow to the record companies in their quest for more profit. It comes at our expense.