Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Surprise! Congress Helps the Britney Bailout Move Ahead.

britneyShows you what I know. In March, I predicted that something called “The Performance Rights Act,” which would require radio stations to pay musicians–or at least, music labels–whenever they play one of their recordings, would never get through Congress.

Not because the notion is necessarily a terrible idea, mind you. But because musicians and music labels seemed unlikely to be beneficiaries of Washington aid.

Today, however, the music business got one step closer to getting the bill passed: The House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation in a 21-9 vote. There’s a long way to go: If I remember my Schoolhouse Rock correctly, the bill has to get through a Senate committee, then the full House, the full Senate and then President Barack Obama’s desk before it becomes law.

The National Association of Broadcasters, which hits my inbox almost daily with a press release decrying the act and promising its ultimate failure, assures me that “nearly half the House of Representatives already opposes RIAA efforts to feather the nest of foreign record labels.” And that kind of invective may help them quash this thing.

But let me reiterate: I still think the best way to kill this, if you were so inclined, would be to start calling it the “Britney Bailout.”

Per my previous story, here’s the campaign I would run if I was the NAB: “Slap up an ad that shows Britney Spears driving with her kid on her lap or staggering around an MTV stage or cavorting with K-Fed, and run a simple tag line: “Britney wants more money. Tell Congress not to give her any.” But again, what do I know?

Oooh. Here’s that Schoolhouse Rock classic:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work