For no good reason, the federal government in concert with the recording industry, is busy working to put an end to internet radio. Through a new unit at the Library of Congress known as the Copyright Royalty Board, the Recording Industry Association of America is set to unleash a new fee structure (retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006) that will put undue financial strain on webcasters, big and small, thereby cutting the legs out from under an important new media industry.
The new fees are set to go into effect on May 15, 2007, just two weeks from now. According to BetaNews, the nation’s #1 streaming music provider AOL Radio will owe $23.7 million in back fees on that date.
According to Live 365 CEO Mark Lam, the CRB’s proposed royalty rates represent a stunning 300 to 1200 percent increase. And internet radio is singled out from all other radio, burdened with fees not paid by AM or FM stations, and at rates at least 3-4 times paid by satellite and cable radio. The ruling also includes a minimum of $500 per station per year, thereby penalizing the smallest webcasters with the highest rates.
Not everyone in Washington is rolling over for this draconian silencing. Rep. Jay Inslee (D – Wash.) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R – Ill.) introduced The Internet Radio Equality Act (HR 2060) this week, which would explicitly nullify the findings of the Copyright Royalty Board.
SaveNetRadio is also fighting the good fight on behalf of tens of thousands of small webcasters, musicians (emerging and otherwise) and millions of listeners the globe over. Arbitron and Bridge Ratings estimate between 50 and 70 million Americans listen to internet radio each month, and the figures are rising steadily.
Radio and Internet Newsletter has more on the developments.