Feeds

Congressman pocketed $18,000 for RIAA ‘lobbying trip’

Ethics probe call needs your help

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

The powerful Congressman at the center of the controversy over royalty rates for small webcasters took $18,000 from the Recording Industry Association of America.

As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner was instrumental in forcing the deal that could result in an antitrust suit against the RIAA being filed by small webcasters.

The trouble is, Congressmen are forbidden from taking private donations to lobby abroad. Sensennbrenner recorded the visit to Taiwan and Thailand back in January, as a "fact finding mission".

According to the House Ethics Committee's advisory booklet on Gifts and Travel, "Members and staff may not accept expenses from a private source for travel the primary purpose of which is to conduct official business."

"If he's dictating policy, he should be a representative of the United States, not the RIAA," Boycott-RIAA founder Bill Evans told us.

The RIAA has confirmed that the purpose of Sensenbrenner's paid-for jaunt was one of exposition: "so they understand that this is a unified message coming from all levels of the U.S. government," according to an RIAA spokesperson.

"His own description belies that it was a 'fact-finding' trip," says Gary Ruskin, of the Congressional Accountability Project watchdog.

$18,000 can go a long way in Thailand. Sensenbrenner's brief trip was for just five days.

Three months before his five-day RIAA-sponsored trip, Sensenbrenner surprised observers by taking a close interest in the Small Webcasters Settlement Act (HR.5469) which morphed from the anticipated six-month cooling off period into a bill specifying detailed rates and conditions, which many small webcasters found unpalatable. According to participants in the negotiations, Sensenbrenner forced the webcasters to come up with a royalty settlement with the RIAA, threatening to use his staff to write the terms instead. Contacted by The Register this week, Sensenbrenner's office referered us to the House Judiciary Committee.

"It's not for us to say the rule was violated, but the House Ethics Committee should investigate, Ruskin told The Register. However, the Committee can only investigate the representative if asked to so by a fellow Congressman.

Boycott-RIAA and the Webcaster Alliance have produced an electronic form and urge music lovers to fax their Congressional representative so that an investigation can begin. You can find it here.

Related Stories

Radio royalties: the ticking timebomb under the RIAA
RIAA faces antitrust suit
RIAA-written' Net radio bill served to Senate
l">RIAA-backed webcast bill 'a disaster for the US'
96 pc of Net Radio' to close after backroom deal screws grassroots 'casters

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.