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Executives at SoundExchange, the much-hated collectors of digital-music royalties, have been caught doing something naughty . Much to the delight of Internet radio stations fighting higher online-music fees, a federal appeals court slapped their wrists for supporting special interest group MusicFirst Coalition. The supposed "coalition," actually an industry front, is lobbying to levy performance royalties on terrestrial radio stations — much like SoundExchange's own mission to collect billions of dollars from Internet radio.

The big beef is SoundExchange's nonprofit status prohibits it from spending money on anything besides the administering and settling of disputes from the collection, distribution and calculation of royalties. Supporting groups like MusicFirst doesn't make the cut — despite SoundExchange's claims to the contrary.

Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk, always a friend to the digital music industry, hectors SoundExchange about any appearance of a conflict of interest: "With more power would come greater status and bigger paychecks for its officers and directors. Even if the agency were only acting in the interests of artists and labels, it would appear to have a direct stake in the fight." How tiresome. He ought to be lecturing, instead, the Internet radio industry: Take a lesson from SoundExchange and, if you actually care about lowering your royalties, hire some ball-busting, rule-breaking, down-and-dirty lobbyists of your own. Sheesh.