Three Stooges?

Plus: Aid for AIDS, No Dogfight, Boys of Brazil

Scott L. Burton
Houston

Editor's note: Walsh correctly attributed the quote that appeared both inDer Spiegel and on snopes.com. Snopes leaves the veracity of it as "undetermined," and the White House dismissed it as "crap."

Ear-ing it Out

Spy's fine: I am a resident of Bayou Lofts and was shocked to see what was published by the Houston Press about Mr. Menez, who moved downtown after the Spy club was built and should have known about the noise concerns ["Facing the Music," by George Flynn, June 20]. I live much closer to Spy and at a lower level than Mr. Menez, and consider him to be just plain picky. He is expecting this to be a nice, quiet neighborhood; this is what living in a city is like.

I have had a manager in my loft when Spy is in full operation in the evening, and my air conditioner is louder than the club. Most of the problems come not from the club but from the cars on the street playing loud music.

I feel for Spy. If Mr. Menez had talked to the management before calling the police, I'm certain that he would have had a better response from the club. Every time I have talked to the club managers, they have been more than respectful of their neighbors.

I have lived downtown in other large cities, and this is the quietest one I have ever been in. If we force the clubs to leave, we will have our property values drop; the nightlife, restaurants, bars and close commutes are what bring people to the downtown area to live. If Mr. Menez lived on the side of the street that had the buses pulling up at 4 a.m., I'm curious how loud he would scream.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Setting It Straight

Election correction: Two errors have been reported in your coverage about Asian-American politics [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, June 27 and July 4].

Fort Bend ISD trustee Naomi Lam did not win her seat this year when Daniel Wong won his. She won her plurality election in May 2000.

Also, Tal Heflin's Alief-centered state representative's district does not include Fort Bend. It's all west Harris County.

Burt Levine
Sugar Land

Rotten Royalty

Spinning the Web: Racket [by John Nova Lomax, July 4] took an alarmist and mistaken view of the recent decision by the Library of Congress to set relatively high statutory rates for Webcasting.

Webcasters will have to pay 0.07 cents per song per stream, not seven cents, with noncommercial non-CPB Webcaster paying as little as 0.02 cents. These rates were determined not on the basis of piracy but on the basis of the only freely negotiated available rate structure for Webcasting, an agreement between the RIAA and Yahoo!

Furthermore, I feel the idea that the rule spells the end of Webcasting to be alarmist, as it is based on the beliefs that the rate has to apply to all music and the best thing for Webcasters to do is emulate commercial broadcasters. I do not believe either to be the case.

My understanding is that these licensing fees apply only when the Webcaster and the copyright owners "cannot agree on the royalty rates for the license." The major labels will likely use this rate structure, but perhaps other rates can be negotiated with other artists and labels. Of course the majors would be out of the independent Webcasting game, which is not a problem if we believe that Webcasting can be something different from broadcasting. In effect, we have a way out of the Clear Channel cradle-to-grave future through Webcasting that focuses primarily on local talent and other quality music not endorsed by the major labels.

The article also missed the one thing that might spell real doom for the Webcasters. Specifically, Webcasters must pay for all transmitted copyrighted material from October 28, 1998, to the present. This, even for noncommercial Webcasters, could add up to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Ralph Cox
Houston

Editor's note: The rate of 0.07 cents per stream is correct. The higher amount stated in the column was caused by a copyediting error.

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