When the Copyright Office decided to jack up the fees paid by Internet radio stations, one of the groups pushing for the hike was an organization called SoundExchange. The Houston Press explains its interest in the issue:
This is the U.S. Copyright Office-approved quasi-official body that collects money for performances of recordings on digital cable and satellite TV, Webcasts, and satellite radio and then disburses a portion to artists. Originally a wing of the widely reviled Recording Industry Association of America, it became independent in 2003, although there are still members of the RIAA on the SoundExchange board.
Over the past seven years, SoundExchange has found and paid thousands of artists, but they have admitted they can't find about 25 percent of the people they have been looking for. Today, that number stands at more than 8,300 artists.
What happens to that money if SoundExchange can't find them? SoundExchange keeps it.
How hard is it trying to find them? After perusing the list of lost musicians, the Press's John Nova Lomax reports that "in less than five minutes of Googling, I found the official Web sites and/or MySpace pages of Fito Olivares, Goudie, Mark May, the Hollisters and Los Skarnales. What's more, highly visible people like Cam'ron (fresh off a highly-publicized appearance on 60 Minutes), Fat Joe and Danzig are on the 'lost' list too." Some of these artists have simply failed to send in the necessary paperwork, but it's hard to believe that's true of all of them.
Lomax's conclusion: "When an agency gets to keep the money it is supposed to be doling out to people it is responsible for finding, it is easy to detect at least a possible conflict of interest." And when it's lobbying to increase the amount being paid...