Save Internet Radio

Save Internet Radio

Frantic webcasters across the net are trying to combat the
recent development in webcast regulations that would require small,
independent Internet radio stations to pay record labels two to
three times their gross revenue, writes Kurt Hason publisher of
RAIN the Radio and Internet Newsletter

In October 1998, Congress passed the ‘Digital Millennium Copyright
Act (DMCA)’ ‘which, among other things, granted record companies
the right to collect royalties when their copyrighted works were
played via digital media (including Internet radio and satellite
radio).’ This is a departure from traditional radio stations which
pay approximately 3 percent of their revenues to music composers –
not record labels. The logic behind the shift in royalty payouts
was that the digital broadcasts would be of such quality that they
would diminish CD sales.

When the DMCA passed, record companies asked for 15 percent of
revenues whereas webcasters argued for 3 percent. Since the two
groups couldn’t come to terms, the U.S. Copyright Office, in 2001,
‘established a ‘Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP)’ — a
panel of three arbitrators to resolve the issue.’ This particular
CARP held six months of hearings last year and came up with a
royalty rate of 14 cents per song per listener. So, a station that
has 1000 listeners would have to pay $21 per each hour they
broadcast music. Plus, the decision would be retroactive to the
1998 decision. Which would mean that the 1000-listener station
would owe $525,600 which would have to be paid in full within 45
days of the decision. Currently the only stations that could handle
such a fee are the huge ones that are already supported by
advertising. And the amount is way more than the original demands
of the record industry.

So what is one to do? Write your elected representatives, get
informed and write the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress.
See the links below, and spread the word.
–Sara V. Buckwitz

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