In Today’s Chico News and Review, the cover story is about Internet Radio and all
the trouble the Copyright Royalty Board recently caused with a draconian ruling
on the cost to Internet Radio Stations. Regular over the air
broadcasters don’t have such limits because they are seen to "promote the music
industry" Its an alliance as old as payola.
But good news comes today. A bill introduced in Congress today could nullify
the new rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) which advocates say would
put Internet Radio webcasters out of business, such as our own local
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL) have presented the "Internet
Radio Equality Act" which aims to negate the controversial March 2nd
decision which puts royalty of a .08 cent per song per listener, retroactively
from 2006 to 2010 on internet radio.
Advocates of Internet Radio have dreaded the CRB ruling, which they say could
raise rates between 300 to 1200 per cent for webcasters. Earlier this month, the
CRB threw out an appeal by commercial webcasters, National Public Radio and
others to review the new rates and postpone a May 15 deadline for the
introduction of the royalty schedule.
If passed, today’s proposed bill would set new rates at 7.5 per cent of the
webcaster’s revenue — the same rate paid by satellite radio. Alternatively,
webcasters could decide to pay 33 cents per hour of sound recordings transmitted
to a single user.
This bill is a critical step to preserve this new growing medium, and would
present a level playing field where webcasters can compete on the same royalty
terms with satellite radio. It would also reset royalty rules for non-profit
radio such as NPR. Public radio would be required present a report to Congress
on how it should determine rates for their internet streaming media.
I hope this passes, not so much because local radio needs more competition,
but because this insane CRB ruling makes it nearly impossible for local broadcasters to
compete on the Internet at all. This would give everybody a fair chance and at
the same time bring in millions, perhaps billions in royalties for artists.