ArtsWatch: MusicBus Champion Elected House Majority Leader
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Rep. McCarthy To Assume House Majority Leader Duties On July 31
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected House majority leader by the House of Representatives' Republican caucus on June 19, and will assume the position's duties on July 31, succeeding leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.). An early supporter of The Recording Academy's MusicBus approach to drafting music omnibus legislation, McCarthy was also a recipient of the 2014 GRAMMYs on the Hill Award on April 2 and is a co-chair of the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus. "I am humbled to have this new opportunity at the leadership table," said McCarthy in a statement.
Bicameral Bill Grants FCC Regulatory Authority Over Open Internet
On June 17 the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2014 was introduced in the Senate as S. 2476 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives as H.R. 4880 by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). By directing the Federal Communications Commission "to promulgate regulations that prohibit certain preferential treatment of prioritization of Internet traffic," the act would provide the FCC with clear-cut congressional jurisdiction. "Americans are speaking loud and clear, said Leahy. "They want an Internet that is a platform for free expression and innovation, where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider." Details of the bill's language include exempting high-priority government traffic; trying to stay out of the way of the FCC's open docket to develop potentially broader regulations; the act's potential application to mobile traffic; and a broad definition of "edge provider" that ropes in seemingly all Internet service providers and device manufacturers. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association commented that "cable companies do not engage in paid prioritization," without endorsing or opposing the bill. Consumer advocacy groups, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the Writers Guild of America West welcomed the bill.
FCC, Engineers Examine Broadband Performance And Peering
The FCC, engineers in academia and the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group are taking a fresh look at how digital traffic sometimes becomes congested as it moves across the Internet's many networks. The FCC's effort was best summarized in a June 18 blog in which the organization wrote, "The way ISPs exchange traffic with other networks on the Internet is critical to the consumer Internet experience. We need to understand better what is going on and what exactly these issues mean for consumers." Also on June 18, the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus and engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California, San Diego hosted an event during which they assesed where issues of Internet congestion and Net neutrality overlap. The Netflix effect stood out sharply in an early look at one investigation's data. Separately, BITAG announced that it "aims to provide an informative contribution to the ongoing discussion surrounding Internet network interconnection" with a technical review expected to be released this November. In March when Comcast and Netflix announced their peering agreement, ArtsWatch reported, "Watchdogs are going to have to broaden the national conversation about Net neutrality to cope with issues of Internet backbone distribution that used to stay quietly behind the scenes." June 18 was clearly a key date for this issue to come front and center.
Indie Labels Rally Against YouTube
On June 17 an outcry by independent record labels against YouTube attracted headlines alleging threats to purge indie videos from the top Internet streaming destination. It seems more likely that Google was pressuring indies to sign a licensing agreement for its upcoming subscription-based streaming music service. On May 22 the organization Worldwide Independent Network called attention to YouTube's alleged threats of blocking indies. On June 4 American Association of Independent Music President Rich Bengloff wrote to the Federal Trade Commission requesting "urgent government intervention." After several headlines on June 17, a writer at Digital Music News called for calm and said, "Everyone got it wrong." As spelled out by Billboard.biz, the likeliest platform from which indies would be blocked is YouTube's ad-supported Content ID service for video monetization. Regardless of these specifics, one clear fact is that Google's bottom line motivated high-pressure negotiations to obtain a lower rate from indies than major labels receive, and is resulting in substantial ill will.
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