When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

06 May 2007

Support H.R. 2060 - Save net radio

Representative Jerrold Nadler
2334 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Nadler:

I write you today as a concerned constituent, to ask you to cosponsor H.R. 2060, The Internet Radio Equality Act.

Last month, the Copyright Royalty Board changed the royalty schedule for Net-based broadcasters from a percentage of revenue to a per-song, per-listener fee--effectively hiking the rates to be paid by Internet radio stations by between 300 and 1,200 percent.

An article in the online edition of Newsweek (April 30, 2007) explains the fee hike succinctly:
The fee hike will only affect Internet radio, not terrestrial AM and FM, because of a strange wrinkle in copyright law: broadcast stations pay royalties only for the composition as a piece of intellectual property--these are the fees that go to songwriters through ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. But in 1995 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lobbied Congress to pass a law that would require an additional performance fee specifically on digital music. So Internet radio stations pay both the composition fee plus an additional royalty for the performance of the song--the actual act of streaming it online. (Source)
H.R. 2060, The Internet Radio Equality Act, was introduced recently by Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL) to save the Internet radio industry from these ruinous royalty increases. This bill seeks to temporarily peg the royalty rate for Internet radio at the same rate that satellite broadcasters pay (7.5% of revenue) while a new fee structure is hammered out.

Congressman Nadler, I can’t think of many businesses or nonprofits that could sustain a 1,200 percent overnight rate hike; it amounts to the death penalty for Net radio, because it would put most Internet radio stations--the vast majority of them small businesses and labors of love--out of operation, just at a time when a few of them are starting to find some support as commercially viable businesses.

Internet-based broadcasters are filling a culturally important role by providing high-quality alternatives to the homogenized dreck that flows over the public airwaves. They are offering music lovers a choice and presenting an incredibly diverse palette of musical styles and options to their listeners.

Please don’t let bad policy kill Net radio, a welcome and sorely needed cultural and technical innovation.

Please cosponsor H.R. 2060.


Barry T. Campbell

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