Save Internet Radio

by Caitlin Servilio

This blog has long been a devoted fan of internet radio in general, and Pandora in particular. I even spoke to Tim Westergren, Pandora’s very kind CEO, in an interview late last year. Pandora has been the impetus for a broadening of my musical tastes, introducing me to everything from The Apples In Stereo to the Pernice Brothers, and helping me access more music by great artists like My Morning Jacket and Josh Ritter. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s full of amazing music.

And it may be going extinct quite soon.

Thanks to a recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), internet radio providers will be forced to practically triple the amount of money they pay to copyright holders for every song they play. That’s an increase from about $.0008 per song (a new rate that is retroactive for 2006) to $.0019 (for webcasting in 2010). You can easily imagine, I’m sure, the economic impact on any business required to pay three times as much for the same product. (The CRB expects royalty payments at the new rates for 2006 to be paid by July 15.) Internet radio providers claim that this decision will be devastating and, basically, spell the end of internet radio.

It seems the only hope of Pandora and other internet radio services is the Internet Radio Equality Act, a bill introduced to Congress by representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Don Manzullo (R-IL). This bill, if passed, will nullify the CRB’s royalty scheme by providing other options to radio providers: they can either pay 7.5 percent of revenues to the CRB, or they can choose to pay a flat rate of 33 cents per user per hour of webcasting.

The bill has to be approved by both the House and the Senate before it can be signed into law. So please, I beg any of our readers who enjoy internet radio even a little, please write or send an e-mail to your representatives in the House and Senate to support this bill. Internet radio is providing a free service to people all over the world that certainly isn’t being provided by on-air or satellite radio, or any other kind of music provider for that matter. It often seems that every other type of media in our culture is strictly controlled by huge corporations and media gatekeepers, and internet radio is a chance for the normal, every-day citizen to be in control of what they listened to for a change. We can’t just let that die, at least not without a fight.

(Editor’s Note: Although it may be under some debate, arguably the decisions of the Copyright Royalty Board and the Internet Radio Equality Act may also affect the ability of this blog to continue to provide its regular podcast feature, iVoryTowerz Radio. So this blog also has a vested interest in seeing the current legal atmosphere changed.)

(Photo by altemark of Stockholm, Sweden via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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kristenmpowell said...

this is such an important piece of legislation.

please, please, please write your representatives.


it's so easy, you just have to fill out the form

Janna said...

there is actually an online petition that is EVEN easier to sign. You don't even have to write the message yourself, though you can, and it automatically goes to your representatives.


Caitlin Servilio said...

Thank you guys for the links. It really is really important that the people who are most affected by this law need to stand up for it. Thanks again.

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