Congress is now involved in the copyright royalty fight for Internet radio stations.
Reps. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. and Don Manzullo, R-Ill. filed legislation this week that would vacate the recent decision by the federal Copyright Royalty Board to raise the amount of royalties Internet radio broadcasters pay to copyright holders for airing a song.
In March, the CRB increased royalty rates for Webcasters, starting retroactively at $0.0008 per song in 2006 and climbing to $0.0019 per song in 2010. The change amounts to a 300 percent cost increase for the largest Webcasters and up to a 1,200 percent increase for smaller operations, bill proponents say.
Inslee, a member of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, called the raise “untenable” for many Internet radio broadcasters.
“You can’t put an economic chokehold on this emerging force of democracy,” he stated. “There has to be a business model that allows creative Webcasters to thrive and the existing rule removes all the oxygen from this space.”
The Inslee-Manzullo Internet Radio Equality Act would provide “royalty parity” for Internet radio providers. It would vacate the CRB’s March 2 decision and apply the same royalty rate-setting standard to commercial Internet radio, as well as satellite radio, cable radio and jukeboxes. A transition rate of 7.5 percent of revenue would be set through 2010.
For public radio, the bill sets a royalty standard designed for noncommercial entities.