A Congressional Conversation

The other day I got an email from Pandora, an internet radio service, asking me to sign a Save Internet Radio email petition to help revoke the recent increase in licensing fees by the Copyright Royalty Board. I looked into it a bit, and signed the email petition. I’m of two minds about royalties/copyrights: on the one hand, I think artists should be able to make enough money to live while producing their art. On the other hand, I’m not so sure “owning” the artworks via copyright is the way to go.

In any case, the petition went to my federal congresspersons, including Senator Clinton.

I received the following reply three days later:

Thank you for your e-mail. It is very important to me to know the issues that are of concern to you. A growing number of my constituents are now choosing to communicate with me via e-mail. I hope you will understand that, because of the volume and range of e-mails I receive, it can take some time to send a response that specifically addresses the subject raised in your message. I do, however, want to let you know immediately that your message has been received. Hearing from you and others through e-mail helps me to quickly learn the views and interests of New Yorkers and others, which is very helpful to me in my work in the United States Senate. I hope you will continue to monitor my work through my website at http://clinton.senate.gov, and I welcome hearing from you.Sincerely,
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Two hours after that, I received this email:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the proposed new royalty rates for online radio. I always enjoy hearing from New Yorkers about challenging public policy issues that are important to them, and I particularly appreciate your concerns regarding the future of Internet radio. As you may know, I am a strong supporter of maintaining an open Internet that fosters innovation. No other communications medium in recent history has had such a profound impact on the expression of speech, education, the dissemination of information and the exchange of ideas.Online radio is a great example of how the Internet has helped to cultivate innovation and offered consumers access to new and personalized information. However, the great technological and commercial progress that has come with the ongoing development of the Internet has also brought with it numerous new public policy dilemmas, such as how to balance copyright protection for music and other property with the innovation that the Internet continues to cultivate.

As you know, in March 2007 the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proposed a new online radio royalty structure, which would amend the system that has been in place since 2002 and establish a new scale for royalties charged to Internet radio companies on a per-song, per-listener basis. The proposed rates will begin at 0.08 cents per song per listener, retroactive to January 1, 2006 and will reach 0.19 cents per song per listener in 2010. The CRB has since announced that it will hear appeals of its previous ruling. Your concerns about this matter are significant and I hope that this period for appeal will enable the CRB to carefully consider points of view like yours.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns regarding these important Internet radio issues with me. Please be assured that I will continue to follow this issue closely and that I will keep your views in mind in the future if related measures come before the Senate. For more information on my support for an open Internet and other important issues before the United States Senate, please visit my website at http://clinton.senate.gov.

Sincerely,
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Two things come to mind:

1) I was impressed that I received these emails, in a somewhat timely fashion. Neither of the other two congresspersons responded to the petition. Even if they’re completely canned emails, they are still replies. I’ve signed numerous email petitions over the last year (mostly through the Organic Consumers Association) and this is the first response I’ve received, ever.

2) She gives absolutely no opinion on the issue in her response. She states “I am a strong supporter of maintaining an open Internet that fosters innovation,” and refers me to her website. Where I can find no information on her opinions or actions relating to the internet, except for sponsoring legislation to ensure VoIP users can access emergency services via 911.

You’re wondering: will I vote for her in 2008? Ah, but that would be talking politics, now wouldn’t it?

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1 Comment

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One response to “A Congressional Conversation

  1. Papa Bradstein

    Bully for you for going to her site to look for a position. Bummer that she doesn’t have one. I’m still waiting for any of the candidates to clearly articulate their positions on their websites, or elsewhere.

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