Keeping Music on Internet Radio

On March 2, 2007, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) released a decision that dramatically increases royalty payments owed to rights holders for streaming sound recordings of music over the Internet. The new royalty rates announced by the CRB are retroactive to January 2006, and they are so high that they threaten to shut down many, some fear most, webcasters. They go into effect May 15, 2007. (Update: The CRB has changed the deadline to July 15, 2007.)
The CRB’s decision also eliminates the distinction between noncommercial and commercial media, and it requires complicated record-keeping that places a huge burden on stations, most of whom (including WDAV) do not have the necessary information to keep such records. If allowed to stand, the CRB decision seems certain to drastically curtail the diversity of music programming now found on the Web, and it will have a negative impact on public radio’s ability to bring new and culturally enriching programming to the American public via the Internet. It also sets a chilling precedent for future rights discussions, negotiations and litigation that may undermine non-commercial public service programming.
But the last chapter in this story hasn’t been written, and there is a way you can make a difference.