As the US Librarian of Congress considers license fees for Internet
radio, the Canadian equivalent of the RIAA is pushing to increase fees
for Internet broadcasting there. Canadian Internet broadcaster
RantRadio is leading
a campaign to stop these fees, which they argue might lead to the
end of independent, non-profit Internet radio in Canada.
SOCAN, the Society of Composers,
Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada, submits every year a proposed
tariff schedule for radio stations and other media outlets which play
music. The Copyright Board of
Canada is then responsible for issuing a final decision as to what
the tariffs will actually be.
year's proposed tariff schedule, SOCAN is attempting to introduce
"Tariff 22", which would be a monthly fee of C$0.25 (US$0.16) per
"subscriber" to non-profit Internet radio
services. Advertising-supported stations would pay a larger fee. These
fees would apply even to stations such as RantRadio which receive
permission from the artists whose songs they play.
As RantRadio argues, this would create two problems for Canadian
Internet broadcasters. First is the monetary expense to stations, many
of which are run by hobbyists with their own money. It seems likely
that many such stations would be forced to close if their operators
could not afford to pay the fees. The second problem is the paperwork
burden and privacy imposition that would be caused by the need to
track "subscribers" to a free service which previously required no
registration of any sort.
While SOCAN's plan is perhaps not quite as invasive as that proposed
by the US CARP and recently rejected
by the Librarian of Congress, it is nonetheless dangerous to the
future of Internet radio in Canada. As large organizations such as
SOCAN and the RIAA attempt to enrich their own pockets, it is the
listeners and producers of Internet radio who suffer.