August 26, 2003 · Lessig
The recording industry has been strongly opposed to a statutory or compulsory license for digital music (not the Internet radio kind, but a reasonable kind that would enable the spread of digital content). They object that “the market” should set the rate for music, not a federal statute. (Of course, they have no hesitation appealing to the statutory rate for damages, as opposed to the ordinary market measure for damages, when it comes to a breach, but that’s a separate matter).
But the history here is fun. Here’s a quote from a 1967 House Judiciary Report, considering a modification to the law as it existed then:
[T]he record producers argued vigorously that the compulsory license system must be retained. They asserted that the record industry is a half-billion-dollar business of great economic importance in the United States and throughout the world; records today are the principal means of disseminating music, and this creates special problems, since performers need unhampered access to musical material on nondiscriminatory terms. Historically, the record producers pointed out, there were no recording rights before 1909 and the 1909 statute adopted the compulsory license as a deliberate anti-monopoly condition on the grant of these rights. They argue that the result has been an outpouring of recorded music, with the public being given lower prices, improved quality, and a greater choice.
Copyright Law Revision, Committee on the Judiciary, 90th Cong. 1st, Sess., Rep. No. 83 66 (March 8, 1967).
“The result has been an outpouring of recorded music, with the public being given lower prices, improved quality, and a greater choice.”
(Thanks to Glenn Brown for drawing my attention to this report).