Recording Industry Battles Online Radio

Allies of the recording industry in Congress have introduced new legislation to change copyright law in the face of a new, online landscape. But the proposal is facing criticism that it would insulate entrenched players in the market from competition, hurting consumers.

The bill, authored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in the Senate and Rep. Doug Collins in the House (R-GA), is titled the Songwriter Equity Act. Its stated aim is to give songwriters more consideration in the setting of royalty rates. In reality, critics allege, it would change existing law to extract more licensing fees from music distributors.

Both sides in the debate agree that artists, songwriters, musicians and recording companies deserve compensation for the rights to enjoy or broadcast their work. Today’s musical royalty system, however, is an antiquated mess designed for an off-line world, colored in large part by the radio “payola” scandal from the days before space-flight. The current system actually involves bureaucrats from the Library of Congress to operate.

The music publishing industry is an oligopoly. Two of the three major recording industry bodies that set rates for songwriters and publishers, the Americans Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) were found to be monopolies by the government in the 1940s and currently operate under a federal consent decree. The third, the Society for European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) is in the midst of an anti-trust trial. 

These three organizations, known as Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) set the rates distributors pay to broadcast artistic works. These royalties pay the composers ,songwriters  and publishers for their efforts and creativity. 

Recently, during negotiations between Internet radio service Pandora and ASCAP, one of the PROs that one of the music publishers, EMI, later acquired by Sony, withdrew from ASCAP the PRO’s right to negotiate royalties for “digital streaming services” for the publisher and entered into its own direct negotiations with Pandora. Importantly, these negotiations would not be subject to the federal consent decree. 

As the negotiating deadline approached, Pandora asked Sony for a list of its song catalogue, so the service could prepare to remove the content if talks reached an impasse. Sony refused to provide this list, meaning Pandora was threatened with large fines if it inadvertently broadcast a work owned by Sony.  

Pandora sued and won a summary judgment against Sony’s move. The court set royalty rates for distribution, using a pre-set formula estimating fair-market value. 

The Songwriters’ Equity Act (SEA), however, has sought to override the rates set by the court and mandate a new formula to determine royalties. The new law would direct courts to consider songwriters’ rates, which have been inflated by government entities to unprecedented levels, as part of the formula when determining royalty rates for songwriters and publishers.  Interestingly, the new law would not allow the Copyright Royalty Board to consider rates publishers ultimately charge distributors when determining royalties for songwriters. It would, however, force music distributors to dramatically increase their royalty payments to the PROs. Such a move would threaten emerging platforms like Pandora already struggling to find sustainability under the government set rates for artists.

The vast majority of royalty payments currently go to large corporate publishers and record labels. Songwriters and artists would likely be better off negotiating directly with music distributors. Alternatively, they could also negotiate a higher percentage of the licensing fee currently being collected by Sony and other music publishers.

Authors increasingly sell their work directly at sites like Amazon and, as a result, enjoy a greater share of the revenue generated from sales. Recording artists and songwriters would be well served to find a similar method for cutting out the middlemen.




Source: Breitbart Feed

Hanna, In Primary Battle, Supports Amnesty

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) , an immigration reform supporter told  WRVO early last year his support for the legislation stems from providing a legal way for illegal immigrants to work. Hanna told WRVO at the time, farmers can’t find enough legal employees to work in the district’s dairy farm industry. 

“Why would we want to make criminals out of dairy farmers simply because they want to run their business, when we know there are people available to do the work,” he said.

“It’s important that New Yorkers find a legal way to help people come here, do the work they want to do, know who they are, where they are how they contribute, what they cost, have a way to find those people and if necessary send them back,” said Hanna. “But our process today is out of control.”

The New York Republican believes that foreign immigrants do not take American jobs.

“Much immigrant labor is highly skilled and thus presumably not differentiated,” he told The Washington Post. “Why would wage competition not incur in the labor market?”

Utica, which serves as a large chunk of Hanna’s district is among the top ten cities in the state with a current unemployment rate of 6.4 percent or above. That number once skyrocketed to 10.5 percent in 2012.

By September 2012, Hanna introduced the Science Technology Education and Math (STEM) Education Opportunity Act. Hanna touted that the bill would give a federal tax deduction equal to a student’s STEM higher education expenses, like room and board.

Hanna targeted the legislation towards attracting foreign immigrants as opposed to Americans to fill jobs in the math and science fields. In an April 2013 op-ed piece for the Council for Global Immigration Hanna wrote, “We need to educate our own population and encourage the study of STEM subjects from an early age. But creating a deep and broad pipeline of domestic STEM teachers, students and workers will take many years, so we need to change our immigration laws now to allow more foreign STEM workers to fill immediate job openings.”

Utica was once a thriving industrial hub with over 100,000 residents NPR reported in 2006. However, following the 1995 shutdown of a nearby Air Force Base in Rome, the population took a dive to a mere 60,000 individuals. The number has not changed much in 8 years. Home to a refugee center, Utica continues to be a draw for foreign immigrant labor. The population of foreign born persons in Utica between 2008 and 2012 was 17 percent.

Interestingly, when the time came for Hanna to be at a The Joint Economic Committee hearing in April of 2013, he ditched the hearing. The intent of the meeting was to find bipartisan solutions to handling the problem of long-term unemployment. House Speaker John Boehner appointed Hanna to the committee just two months prior.

More recently, Hanna banded with 69 other immigration reform Republicans, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Renee Ellmers and almost the entire Democratic Party to defeat an amendment to the FY 2015 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 4745), proposed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), to bar Section 8 housing for individuals who are in the country illegally.

Gohmert referenced a 2009 HUD study showing that 0.4% of spending for housing programs goes towards subsidizing illegal immigrants. If the amendment passed, over $7 million would have been cut out of the Public Housing Capital Fund. Over $17 million would have been slashed from the Public Housing Operating fund. These numbers are proportionate to the 0.4% share of the overall budget aimed at housing subsidies for illegals.

“In a time when some American citizens can’t get the housing they need it is unacceptable that those ineligible are stealing from them. This amendment would help encourage HUD to look into this problem and make corrections in their oversight and enforcement of the laws that should govern the way they run the federal housing assistance programs,” Gohmert. said.

Hanna’s vote was no different than when he voted against a GOP bill that would have cut food stamps, another welfare benefit aimed at illegal immigrants, by 5% last year in September.

Hanna, however, two days after the defeat of Gohmert’s amendment, said in a video release he said, “When I ran for Congress, I promised you I’d fight for fiscal sanity and conservative solutions and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”




Source: Breitbart Feed

Missouri Church Held Father’s Day AR-15 Giveaway

On Father’s Day, Ignite Church in Joplin, Missouri, had a raffle for two AR-15 rifles to help attract fathers and young men to services. 

According to the Muskogee Phoenix, “The church gave area fathers an opportunity to put their names in a free drawing to win one of two AR-15 rifles.” Tickets were handed out based on how many children the father brought to church and whether he brought his own father.

Pastor Heath Mooneyham said that “the giveaway targeted a specific demographic–males age 18 to 35.”

He also said that trips to gun ranges are not uncommon for his church.

The newspaper made sure to note that the AR-15 was “one of several guns used in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman killed 12 people in a movie theater, and similar to the style of rifle used in the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.”

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.




Source: Breitbart Feed

Top Common Core Critics Stotsky, Milgram and Robbins on Fed Led Ed

MCKINNEY, Texas–Last week, Breitbart Texas sat at the education roundtable, so to speak, with three of the most prominent voices in the fight against Fed Led Ed — Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. James Milgram, and Jane Robbins, JD. The trio spoke candidly about the ups and downs of Common Core, came up with a few solutions, and talked Texas education.

The conversation began with Stotsky’s back-to-back speaking engagements, traveling from Albany to Austin and addressing everything from parents’ rights to recounting her Common Core validation committee experiences in 2009-10. Previously, Stotsky developed one of the nation’s strongest sets of K-12 academic standards and licensure tests for prospective teachers during her tenure as Sr. Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education (1999-2003).

After refusing to sign off on the Common Core ELA standards, Stotsky became a lightening rod for Common Core critics across the nation. Tirelessly, she continues to speak out about the inferior Common Core State Standards in the contentious minefield of Fed Led Ed.

On June 17, Stotsky spoke at the Common Sense Lobby Day held in the New York State capitol. Two days later, she was in Austin, Texas with Dr. James Milgram as part of the #CANiSEE conference. Other notables speaking included Dr. Peg Luksik (Founded on Truth) who was slated to retell the history of Common Core and Frank Gaffney (Center for Security Policy), who addressed Fed Led Ed as a national security issue. Also present was American Principles Project Senior Fellow Jane Robbins whose five-part series “Stop the Common Core” was among the first to make the convoluted Common Core understandable.

Event organizers Women on the Wall billed the event as a counter-conference to the national PTA’s annual convention that was held concurrently. Breitbart Texas previously reported that 2014 marked PTA’s first visit to Texas in its 117 year history.

Interestingly, Stotsky and Milgram have direct links to the Texas education standards. Stotsky co-wrote the 2008 English Language Arts (ELA) standards with Susan Pimental, who Stotsky recalled as a consultant from StandardsWork. Two years later, Pimental resurfaced on the Student Achievement Partners team with fellow Common Core authors David Coleman and Jason Zimba.

Similarly, Milgram, the internationally acclaimed mathematician and professor of mathematics at Stanford University, also served on the Common Core validation committee. He refused to endorse the final version of the Common Core math standards. Then, in 2011, he testified before the Texas legislature on behalf of HB 2923, which was written to prevent Common Core from being adopted in Texas.

Milgram was a national reviewer and content expert for the first and second drafts of the Texas math standards. Hopeful that the early drafted versions held “every indication of being among the best, if not the best state standards in the country,” Milgram praised Texas for preparing students for the workforce and “the approaches to mathematics education that underlie the results in the high achieving countries.”

Unfortunately, the promise of those math standards never came to fruition. They were scrapped. Milgram told Breitbart Texas, “Standards could have been much better.”

Like in the Common Core states, Texas math standards drop off at Algebra II. The plain-spoken Milgram explained to Breitbart Texas that his frustration with math standards and math educators is far from Texas-centric. It’s coast-to-coast. Nor is this only about Algebra II, per say. Milgram’s math concerns are rooted in the economic survival of American society.

He explained that it’s about the principle of compound interest, a mathematical concept that hasn’t been taught in many years yet it’s vital to understanding money, according to Milgram.

“If you don’t understand the principle, what it is and how it works (it means) you don’t understand money and, at a minimum, when you go in with bankers to do a mortgage, you are just asking for trouble,” he emphasized.

“This was the only kind of defense we would have had against the mortgage crisis,” Milgram told Breitbart Texas, certain that the 2008 subprime home loan debacle would have been avoided if people understood how money worked before they signed on the dotted line.

Although he succeeded in briefly reinstating the principle of compound interest into California’s 7th grade math standards (1998), Milgram learned to his disappointment that “the teachers didn’t teach it.”

Math also matters to other knowledge areas including biology, physics and engineering. He told Breitbart Texas,  “Too many of those kids that go into (engineering) do not understand enough of the math to understand the engineering they do and they start to make mistakes.”

He cited incidences of US automobile manufacturer failures, the Mississippi River Bridge collapse in Minnesota, and even the destruction of the Oakland Bay Bridge in California during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

“Mistakes cost lives,” he said, emphasizing that the failure of our citizenry to do basic mathematics is extremely dangerous.

This raised the question of how Fed Led Ed may hurt America’s children in other ways. Stotsky warned that Common Core standards cheated students out of the education they should be having.  She said, “if your children are in grade 8 or 9, they are going to be the victims of Common Core.”

Robbins, who was scheduled discuss data-collection at the Austin event, told Breitbart Texas, “What may develop in states that are committed to Common Core is the rise of homeschooling and home school communities for families where both parents work.”

She believes the education establishment is “monolithically in favor” of Common Core and likens the fight ahead as “a hard flog.” Even with states like Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana and Louisiana working on exiting the federal mandate, Robbins recognizes that the strength is in the numbers.  More people need to open their eyes and see that what’s happening in public education is “recycled failure.”

“It’s like they said, let’s take all the things that didn’t work (for the last 50 years) and do more of it. Maybe it’ll work this time,” she told Breitbart Texas.

Perhaps most troubling for Robbins is the technology, not necessarily the “filing cabinet” data (i.e., names, addresses and test scores) but the “more fine grained data” culled when a child interacts with a digital learning platform.  She noted, “They can gather billions of pieces of evidence – what the child can do, how his mind is working – that is the brave new world of data collection.”

Robbins addressed these issues in the May 2014 Pioneer Institute white paper “Cogs in the Machine” which she authored with Emmett McGroarty, Esq., Executive Director of the Preserve Innocence Initiative at the American Principles Project and Joy Pullman, research fellow at the Heartland Institute.

“When it comes to getting the digital learning data, they can get that without the parents ever knowing they’ve got it. (Parents) just think this is a new, cutting edge 21st century learning technology and this is going to be great,” she stated.

Robbins also pointed to the importance of understanding the mindset of the education establishment and the ideologues behind the curtain. She said, “There’s a reason that the 1960’s radicals all went into education.  Look at what they’re doing now. So many of them are teaching at education schools.”

Milgram concurred. Although he loudly applauded Southern Methodist University in Dallas as one of the really exceptional schools in the nation, he told Breitbart Texas that it’s only one of three or four schools putting out quality math educators in America which is not enough to make an impact.

“I haven’t lost hope that Common Core is going to go away at some point,” Robbins admitted, adding, “Robert Scott, who was the Commissioner of Texas Education, has said all along that Common Core is going to fail because you cannot standardize education for 300 million people.”

It may not have to come down to an epic fail, though. Stotsky already introduced several savvy solutions during the Lobby Day press conference which she spoke to in greater detail with Breitbart Texas. The first of these ideas was optional “accelerated sequences.” It’s a simple premise. A school system would add multiple sets of secondary standards and no longer be solely based on Common Core which Stotsky called “baseline and inadequate.” 

Even if a state was “stuck with Common Core” because of a statute, Stotsky indicated that the beauty of these new pathways would be that they’d add “accelerated” levels of learning.  She said, “It’s got to be more than Common Core, different than Common Core and one can’t have the Common Core-based sequence unless a school district has all the others available.”

Stotsky envisioned that students would be able to apply for the optional accelerated level coursework in ELA, Math and US history after grade 5; they could change pathways at  any time until grade 12, with summer school classes available for missed work resulting from a switch.

It’s “something every state could be aiming for, including Texas,” she said.

“I know the Common Core is illegal in Texas,” she told Breitbart Texas, noting that even Texas “needs multiple sets of secondary standards for grades 6-12.”

She has a point.  There may be a Common Core shield law and an Attorney General opinion reiterating “no Common Core in Texas,” but there’s also a No Child Left Behind waiver, College and Career Readiness Standards, and Race to the Top winner Houston Independent School District.

The lone star legacy of the controversial curriculum management program CSCOPE rebranded as the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) Resource System, Common Core materials seeping into schools, questionable teacher professional development, and curious intentions of the Texas Association of School Administrators’ (TASA) School Transformation Network fuel Texans increasing fears about Fed Led Ed in the classroom.  Adding accelerated Stotsky-styled sequences might just calm a lot of nerves.

Another thing Stotsky recommended changing is K-12 testing.  She told Breitbart Texas, “We’ve got to get rid of the testing framework from No Child Left Behind and Common Core.  There isn’t any need to test kids at every single grade level from (grade) 3 through 8. Maybe they can do it three different times like once at the end of grade 5, and at the end of grade 8 and then in high school.”

She saw no reason to have so many statewide tests consuming so much valuable learning time. “Teachers should not be teaching to the test,” Stotsky stated.

Under Stotsky’s recommendations, however, different levels of high school end-of-course and college entrance exams would be designed for different college pathways — community colleges, four-year and state universities. She told Breitbart Texas that the only way to ensure college-readiness is for the tests to be developed by teaching faculty at state institutes of higher learning. They are the ones who know what incoming freshman need to know.

As she continues to flesh out these education recommendations, Stotsky emphasized the importance of high school students taking a more proactive role in their educations. She told Breitbart Texas this could mean petitioning their schools for the kinds of courses they want to take, especially when it comes to “first rate courses in Math, English and other subjects.”

Most importantly, Stotsky stated that the battle to take back public education begins in everyone’s backyards.  Earlier in the week she said, “In moving forward, we need action at the local level because that is where there is still statutory authority for legally elected representatives of the people — your local school board. It’s a basic principle in American democracy that goes back to colonial times. It doesn’t exist in most other countries in the world but you have legally elected school board members.” 

It’s the power to push for change and it’s up to parents, teachers, school board members and legislators to “request and demand several different sets of secondary standards with an exam at the end of each one of them” because, as Stotsky told Breitbart Texas, this is what exists in most other countries.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.




Source: Breitbart Feed

Days Before NBA Draft, Marfan Syndrome Diagnosis Ends Baylor Basketball Star’s Career

Former Baylor star Isaiah Austin, 20, projected as a first-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a life-threatening condition affecting his heart. He says he will not play basketball again.

Austin, who is 7’1″, had taken the standard physical as part of the routine at the NBA combine. The EKG showed his heart was abnormal. Doctors asserted that he should stop playing basketball immediately. The news was forwarded to Austin’s mother, Lisa Green, who drove through the night from Kansas to Dallas, where her son was, to tell him. She was joined by Baylor coach Scott Drew and Austin’s high school coaches.

Austin told ESPN, “They said I wouldn’t be able to play basketball anymore at a competitive level. They found the gene in my blood sample. They told me that my arteries in my heart are enlarged and that if I overwork myself and push too hard that my heart could rupture. The draft is four days away, and I had a dream that my name was going to be called.”

Austin was determinedly upbeat, saying, “For all of my supporters, I just want to tell them sorry. I’m sorry they couldn’t see me play in the NBA. But it’s not the end; it’s only the beginning.”

Drew released a statement, saying, “This is devastating news, but Isaiah has the best support system anyone could ask for, and he knows that all of Baylor Nation is behind him. His health is the most important thing, and while it’s extremely sad that he won’t be able to play in the NBA, our hope is that he’ll return to Baylor to complete his degree and serve as a coach in our program.”

Austin has shown enormous courage for years. He is blind in his right eye since he suffered through a retinal detachment and four eye surgeries staring when he was 16. He averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 28.9 minutes per game while playing for Baylor.

Marfan syndrome comes from mutations in genes that affect fibrillin, which helps connective tissue in the body keep its strength. Tissues in the body stretch, distort, and tear. The aorta may weaken, bulge, or tear; the eye’s lens or retina can separate from its normal attachments.

People who suffer with Marfan syndrome are taller than expected for their age and taller than their families. When their arm span is measured from fingertip to fingertip, it is greater than their height. It used to be that those diagnosed with Marfan syndrome died in their 30s, but by the late 1990s, most people with Marfan syndrome were able to live until their 60s because there was more success preventing aortic dissection and rupture.

Some famous athletes and celebrities have died from the disease, including the actor Vincent Schiavelli, Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman, the composer of Rent, Jonathan Larson, and Bradford Cox, the lead singer of the group Deerhunter.




Source: Breitbart Feed