The technology sector is supposed to be one of the new power players in national politics. But you might be wondering what happened to its newfound political capital after watching its hapless attempts to lobby Congress to pass the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), a bill that would reduce the music royalties paid by Web radio services.
At a hearing yesterday before a House subcommittee studying IRFA, the tech world seemed to be the same amateurs in navigating Washington as they were before January's triumph over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Pandora and the other Webcasters say it is imperative for the continued growth of their burgeoning industry to cut the rates they're required to pay to access music. Still, it was obvious that bill doesn't have anywhere near the support it needs to pass.
Some of the lawmakers seemed less interested in talking about the bill and began asking why Internet radio and satellite radio must pay but traditional radio does not. They questioned why Congress was looking at a little piece of the problem, Internet radio, when terrestrial radio broadcasters, a much larger group had been allowed for decades to generate profits from music without paying any compensation.