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[whitespace] Ranblin' Ror Get Your Snout Out of My Cyberspace: KPIG DJ Ranblin' Ror is on the warpath over sky-high Internet royalties.


Mr. Goldsmith Goes to Washington

Surely, all ye piggies know by now that the reason you can't hear KPIG's online stream anymore (except for live performances) is royalties. Or, as KPIG DJ "Wild Bill" Goldsmith puts it, "All that CARP crap."

CARP stands for Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel, a title that besides being long-ass would be way more intelligible if it read Copyright Royalty Arbitration Panel, but that would turn CARP into CRAP.

"Evidently the acronym police objected to that," jokes Goldsmith, noting that CARP was responsible for setting up a, dare we say it, crappy royalty scheme that cost KPIG, which makes zilch on webcasts, a whooping $3,000 a month.

These royalty rates, says Goldsmith, "are absolutely unworkable on the current Internet radio marketplace," which is why KPIG has stopped webcasting.

Readers may remember that KPIG was the first radio station to digitize its music and "stream" its signal over the Internet. Indeed, pulling the plug on July 18 ended seven years of continuous webcasting and cost the station 250,000 online listeners.

All of which explains why Goldsmith went to Washington last week, where he succeeded in getting the Internet Radio Fairness Act introduced to Congress. The bill would exempt hundreds of small businesses from the royalties, while launching a new set of hearings on terms more favorable to radio.

As Goldsmith explains, KPIG did not participate in the last round of testimony, because participants were required to pay a portion of costs for the government arbitration, costs that ran in the hundreds of thousand dollars range.

While the recording industry argues that the bill is misguided and will harm the artists it relies on, Goldsmith says the current goal is to come up with a more reasonable agreement that both sides can live with.

Initially, in case you tuned in late, CARP set its royalties based on a deal made between Yahoo! and copyright holders at the height of the dotcom heyday. (Remember 1998?)

Since then the dotcom bombed and Yahoo! repudiated its deal, but somehow Internet radio got stuck paying royalties each time one person hears one song--all of which has led to a whole lot of oinking at the station with snout, which vows not to roll over like a hog on a roasting spit on this issue.

In the meantime, a KPIG subscription option is a very real possibility. Says Goldsmith, "We hate to have to do it, and we'd keep it as low as possible, if nothing else as a stop-gap solution."

Chronic Fearmongering

Attention hackeysack players, jugglers and bubble blowers! You have only 40 days to practice your craft in the commercial districts of this city before ordinance changes go into effect that will outlaw such activities just one day before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Oh, and speaking of domestic terrorism, did you catch that story about Santa Cruz in the San Francisco Chronicle this week? Another vicious hatchet job from out-of-towners who love to pull drive-bys of their own on our community when the opportunity presents itself.

Titled "Bedlam by the Boardwalk," the Chronic's piece painted such a laughably distorted picture of how "previously pastoral Santa Cruz" is seething with urban blight that it made us wonder if the Chronic was simply trying to crush our already ailing local businesses and tourism biz for the glory of their hometown, while simultaneously practicing some not-so-subtle liberal bashing,

Chronic reporter Maria Alicia Gaura, who last year did some similar coverage of Camp Paradise, managed to find someone to trace our current problems to "this council's misguided invitation of homeless campers to Santa Cruz." Which simply makes Nüz want to quote former downtown host Karin Karlsson, who summed up the roots of the current outcry at a recent council meeting in four succinct words: "It's the economy, stupid."

For though Gaura described Councilmember Mark Primack as a "supporter of stricter downtown rules," she did not print Primack's comments about the link between the passage of the ordinances and fears the city's utility tax will be repealed this fall.

Curious to explore this link further, Nüz caught up with Primack at the soon-to-be-opened wine bar Soif, where the architect by trade was advising owner Patrice Boyle where to hang some very gnarly grape vines.

"It's all connected to the utility tax," Primack told Nüz, when pressed. "There is not an action the council makes these days without considering it. Emily Reilly's motion to remove funding for the Peace Park was connected, too.

"If the utility tax is repealed, we'll be laying off one-third of city workers, because we're talking about almost 20 percent of the city's budget," Primack said. "The decision as to whether we're going to repeal the utility tax has nothing to do with how well the Department of Parks and Recreation prunes the trees, but with the public's perception of whether City Council is wasting time and energy, or truly representing each group. If people can't enjoy the city, if they feel it's closed off to them, then why should they support the city by supporting the utility tax?"

Nüz can understand that the anti-utility tax faction has gotten under the City Council's skin, but still can't see how these ordinance changes will address the most serious of the problems downtown (gangs, drugs, vandalism and harassment).

Nüz Is News

Nüz's plot for world domination is coming along nicely, thank you. First, Nüz was pleasantly surprised to see that the City Council is looking into installing self-cleaning bathrooms, a suggestion we explored in this column six weeks ago (Nüz, June 12).

Nüz is also getting a rather big head because of two--count 'em, two!--recent attempts by another local publication to deconstruct Metro Santa Cruz's recent cover story on downtown.

Their alarmist misinterpretations have made for some great belly laughs and lots of milk squirting out of noses around our office, but the funniest thing is how many dry-as-toast academic treatises they've gotten out of just one of our stories. We say keep 'em coming--we're thinking we can get an honorary college degree out of this! In fact, in the hopes of further clinical analysis of our work, look for these upcoming stories: "Transgressive Meter Feeding in the World of Clowning," "Basic Rules for the Use of Quotation Marks Revisited" and "Gypsy Killer: Was Rosalind Russell's Bad Acting a Secret Racist Plot?"

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the July 31-August 7, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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