On Thursday the Internet Radio Equality Act was introduced by Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL). The bill would nullify the current Copyright Royalty Board ruling and require that future CRBs to apply the same standards in setting Internet radio royalty rates as apply to satellite radio - thus the basis for the word "equality" in the bill. It would set "transitional" royalty rates which would be in effect until the CRB royalty hearings for the years 2011-2015. The transitional rates would be either .33 cents per listener hour or 7.5% of annual revenues. The broadcaster would have to decide once each year which method of calculation he wishes to be subject to for the following year. The logic behind these rates is that they attempt to match the rate that satellite radio pays for the same royalties - thus, again, the name of the bill.
The bill also sets the annual minimum per service provider of $500 per year and instructs future CRBs that future minimum royalty rates per service provider shall not be higher than $500 per year. This is in contrast with the current CRB's demand that service providers pay a minimum of $500 PER CHANNEL - a rule that was very obviously designed to specifically bankrupt my service providers Live365 which aggregates the broadcasts of some 10,000 Internet radio stations and LoudCity which provides joint licensing coverage for several hundred stations. Both services not only provide cost efficiencies for small stations such as mine, they also take care of the extremely burdensome and complicated tacking and paperwork requirements that SoundExchange subjects Internet stations to. And, they actually make the cost of administering royalties on SoundExchange's end less burdensome as well.
I am asking that Radio Dismuke listeners and anyone else who values the wonderful variety and diversity of musical programing that Internet radio makes possible to please telephone your Representatives in Congress. Ask the person who answers to phone to please urge your Congressional representative to co-sponsor and support The Internet Radio Equality Act.
Time is of the essence. The outrageous royalties set forth by the Copyright Royalty Board will go in effect on May 15 if nothing is done. Even if the proposed rates go in effect for just one day, it will immediately bankrupt a great many small webcasters due to the fact that the rates are retroactive back to January 2006. Because of the fundamental change in the way the rates are calculated, small stations that were previously being charged $2,000 per year could suddenly be faced with retroactive royalty bills of up to $40,000 or more. If nothing is done by May 15, it is very possible that one or both of Radio Dismuke's service providers will be forced into bankruptcy and go out of business.
I read on a Live 365 message board that if 260 Representatives sign off on the bill at the desk it will pull the bill out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. So you might also ask your Representative to sign the book at the desk so that it can be brought to a vote before stations are forced to go off the air on May 15.
Unfortunately, because of my busy schedule with a full time job and the time I have had to devote on finding a way for Radio Dismuke to somehow survive under a worst case scenario, I have not been able to spend as much time on this blog as I would like to. Your best source of up-to-the-minute news on this rapidly evolving royalty siutation is going to be TheSaveNetRadio Coalition. Both of my service providers are members of this coalition as are a great many small stations and even very large operators such as Yahoo and AOL. If you go to the SaveNetRadio website, you will find a link to where you can enter in your zip code in order to get the telephone number of your Representatives office.
Please call your Representative's office today.