Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Internet Radio Equality Act

I posted an item recently about this proposed legislation intended to right the wrong done by the Copyright Royalty Board. I wrote to Barack Obama and Dick Durbin (my U.S. Senators) about this and got the following response from Obama.


Thank you for contacting me regarding the Copyright Royalty Board’s rate increase decision and its effect on small webcasters. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

The royalty rate for webcasters has proven to be a controversial subject, with small webcasters hoping to become viable, competitive alternatives to large commercial radio stations. As you know, many of these small webcasters offer a variety of music unavailable to a wide audience through other sources.

Regulations set by the enactment of the Small Webcasters Settlement Act of 2002, which favored small webcasters, recently expired and the regulations had to be revisited. As you are aware, in March, 2007, the Copyright Royalty Board issued its decision, which establishes new rates for commercial and noncommercial webcasters. The Board considered the comments of small commercial and non-commercial webcasters, who sought continuation of a fee based solely according to revenue. Ultimately, the Board rejected this benefit for small webcasters, opting instead for a flat-rate fee and a per song per listener basis. When making this decision, the Board cited the difficulty of distinguishing small and large webcasters, as well as their own lack of statutory authority to carve out royalty rate niches for the emergent business models promoted by small webcasters.

The Internet Radio Equality Act (S. 1353), introduced in the Senate on May 10, 2007, would reverse the decision by the Copyright Royalty Board. This legislation is currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. While I am not a member of this committee, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.

Again, thank you for raising this issue with me. Please stay in touch.


Barack Obama
United States Senator

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