Congressman Introduces 'Internet Radio Equality Act'
April 26, 2007 at 4:57 PM (PT)
Rep. JAY INSLEE (D-WA) today introduced "The Internet Radio Equality Act," which would reverse the MARCH 2 ruling by the COPYRIGHT ROYALTY BOARD (CRB) that increased the fees webcasters pay to play music online.
If passed, the bill would vacate the CRB's decision and set a 2006-2010 royalty rate at the same level currently paid by satellite radio services (7.5% of revenue); reset the royalty rules for noncommercial radio such as NPR stations that offer Internet radio music; and change the royalty rate-setting standard used in royalty arbitrations, so that the standards applying to webcasters would align with the standard that applies to satellite radio royalty arbitrations.
"Since the CRB's MARCH 2 decision to dramatically and unfairly increase webcaster royalty rates, millions of Internet radio listeners, webcasters and artists have called on Congress to take action," said SAVENETRADIO's JAKE WARD. "Today Congress took notice, and we thank Mr. INSLEE for leading the charge to save music diversity on the Internet. This bill is a critical step to preserve this vibrant and growing medium and to develop a truly level playing field where webcasters can compete with satellite radio. The Internet Radio Equality Act is the last best hope webcasters, artists, and listeners have to keep the music playing."
Late today, NAB Exec. VP DENNIS WHARTON said, "NAB is reviewing details of Rep. INSLEE's bill, which would overturn the COPYRIGHT ROYALTY BOARD's disappointing decision to dramatically raise fees for companies that stream music over the Internet. We will work with CONGRESS to craft a solution that helps ensure the survival of a fledgling audio platform."
And NPR VP/Communications ANDI SPORKIN called the bill a "fair" resolution, pointing out that copyright law on the books since 1976 "has recognized that public radio has a very different mission from commercial media and cannot pay commercial-level royalty rates."