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Isle Webcasters caught | Balance in biotech



Radio waves

Hawaii's Webcasters are caught
in the record industry's Net

By Robert "Rabbett" Abbett

After seven years of trying to do good things for our communities with our little out-of-the-house Internet radio stations: InternetRadio and, webcasters like myself and L.D. Reynolds on Maui find ourselves in a no-win situation.

In a nutshell, recent federal rules spell a retreat back to the islands for Hawaiian music.

A Hawaiian music fan in Minnesota, whose station doesn't have a weekend Hawaiian music show, is going to have to come here to hear some, find it, buy it and take it back.

Millions of dollars worth of lobbying by the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade association for the big five labels, helped to create performance royalty rates for Internet radio airplay of music. These recently approved rates are as much as 100 percent higher than publishing royalties AM and FM radio stations pay to play music legally.

These new royalty rates, plus four years worth of retroactive payments, foreshadow the end of the fledgling Webcasting industry.

The rates as set now will wipe out thousands of small businesses, especially the mom and pop radio stations now on the Net, and eliminate airplay for tens of thousands of songs and hundreds of genres of music outside of the mainstream pop artists. Independent labels and artists will lose out the most.

The exposure they got on Internet radio will disappear. Most of the 1,300 college stations will be priced off the Internet.

Struggling Webcasters may be forced into bankruptcy because their business became illegal overnight. Or did it? Many want the courts to decide. But going to court is too expensive for most to consider.

Getting airplay on AM and FM has gotten harder and harder. Playlists on those stations are much smaller than on Internet stations. The Internet Radio Hawaii library for example has grown to more than 6,100 traditional Hawaiian songs. Very few local commercial radio stations have even 10 percent as many songs in their active libraries.

So, Hawaiian is one small genre of music that will all but disappear from the Internet.

What will this mean for Hawaiian music and artists?

I cannot tell you that it will crush the local record business, but I can tell you that it will put a dent in online CD sales of Hawaiian music.

Without airplay on stations like and, many artists will never be heard again by folks out of state. College kids, expatriates, frequent island visitors and newly baptized lovers of Hawaiian music won't be able to hear it.

They won't know what artists there are, what CDs are out and they won't know enough to be able to intelligently purchase as much as they do now from online Hawaiian music retailers like Chris Leonard's out of Hilo.

Webcasters all over the United States face an uphill battle in their fight to stay online and keep their fledgling small businesses growing and operating. We have a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that may offer some relief for small operations, but so far no such bill like it in the Senate. Hawaii Rep. Patsy Mink is a co-sponsor of the Internet Radio Fairness Act, H.R. 5285, and it could use the support of many more legislators, as well as folks just like you.

One of our biggest hurdles is separating the concepts of Internet Radio and file sharing.

Ask a politician anything about "Internet" and "Music" and they immediately think "file sharing" and "Napster" and they shut their ears and doors. The recording industry heavyweights want everyone to believe their sales are down because of file sharing and CD burning. We want you to know that Webcasters cannot be held responsible for these drops in sales because:

1) Most of us do not play the big five labels' music.
2) We never offer files for downloading.
3) We do not offer peer to peer file sharing or networking.
4) We do not condone the illegal burning and distributing of copyrighted music or software.
5) And, maybe most compelling of all, our listeners buy music!

Arbitron, the dominant radio audience measuring company that "streamies" (people who have watched or listened to streaming media online in the past week) bought more than one and a half times the number of compact discs in the past year than the average American, based on a new study in conjunction with Edison Media Research.

The study, Internet 9: The Media and Entertainment World of Online Consumers, found weekly streamies bought 21 CDs in the past year, versus 13 for the average American.

"While some in the record industry have viewed streaming as a threat, this research indicates that streamies are a very lucrative group of record buyers," said Bill Rose, Arbitron Webcast Services vice president and general manager, in a press release.

Back at home, some local labels and musicians seem to think the retroactive Internet radio fees will mean a big check in the mail, but they won't.

Webcasters like myself cannot afford these fees. We'll go down and no money will get collected.

But, if local musicians and labels would grant us waivers on the new fees, we can stay online and continue to serve our audience, their fans.

We can continue to promote Hawaiian music and push some more CD sales. Then local musicians will get some checks that will probably be a lot bigger than the ones we'd write even if we could afford the rates.

We need some heavy local support for H.R. 5285 and Hawaiian music's continued presence on the Internet. We urge every Star-Bulletin reader to please write, call, fax or visit our local congressional delegation's offices and ask them to support the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

And we ask all local Hawaiian musicians to consider letting us continue to let the world's ears hear you.

Robert "Rabbett" Abbett is founder and owner of Kailua-based Internet Radio Hawaii. He can be reached at

On the Web




Balancing developments
in biotechnology with the
environment is crucial

By Rick Klemm

On Aug. 14, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and other media ran stories that indicated the Environmental Protection Agency has cited two companies in Hawaii for violating their permits to grow certain genetically engineered crops.

The EPA's action is just a first step and it's possible that they may decide after information gathering that a violation didn't occur after all.

Here are the facts:

1. The EPA has sent letters of preliminary notification to the companies in question seeking more information because more fact finding is needed before the agency rules on the matters.

This is a first step in the EPA process to determine whether permit violations have occurred and, if so, what sanctions are appropriate. The companies had until Aug. 30 to respond to EPA's claims.

It is distressing to see that the activists would use this to promote their own self interests rather than focus on actual environmental concerns. Without even attempting to distinguish between technical deviations and potential impacts on the environment, such a determination is premature and misleading without ever affording the registrants' due process in this matter.

2. On the bright side, the media reports support what activists often deny, namely, that the regulatory system put in place to oversee the testing of genetically engineered crops to protect food safety and the environment works, and works well.

The U.S. regulatory system for food and environmental safety is regarded as among the best in the world.

3. Companies and government agencies conducting genetic engineering research work hard to ensure that their research activities and products are safe. That these notifications from the EPA are the first to be issued is evidence of this commitment.

4. In the next 50 years, global population is expected to grow from 6 billion to between 9 billion and 12 billion. The challenge will be to feed an increasing population on current farm acreage while protecting existing wildlife habitat. This will require taking the best from traditional, organic and modern biotechnology farming methods to significantly increase farm yields; to ensure a supply of safe, nutritious food for all the people of the world; and to protect the environment from unnecessary human encroachment.

Rick Klemm is the executive director of the Hawaiian Alliance for Responsible Technology & Science, an agricultural trade group that supports the responsible use of technology and science, including modern biotechnology. Reach him at

To participate in the Think Inc. discussion, e-mail your comments to; fax them to 529-4750; or mail them to Think Inc., Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. Anonymous submissions will be discarded.

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