As we reported on Monday, the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) had potentially struck a deal with Internet webcasters as represented by an organization called the Voice of Webcasters (VOW).
We remarked that it was unclear how the new music royalties might impact small-scale or college-based stations. On Saturday, The Register reported that the VOW apparently does not speak for many webcasters, and that the new royalties may in fact be disasterous for the vast majority of small Internet radio stations.
The new deal, now embodied in H.R.5469, was apparently brokered by 13 of the largest webcasters, which constitute the VOW. The two-paragraph version of the bill (H.R.5469.IH) was expanded in the eleventh hour into 30 pages of royalty structures (H.R.5469.EH).
By one estimate, 96% of webcasters would find the H.R.5469.EH royalties prohibitively expensive, forcing continuation of the black-out of these small stations, which began in June. Apparently, the RIAA is afraid that Internet radio allows "perfect digital copies" to be made from its broadcasts, which is entirely untrue since most webcasters stream at slow bit-rates.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) had promised support for the bill once it reached the Senate. If you care about Internet radio, please email Mr. Leahy and your own senators to voice your concerns. Let them know that small-scale webcasters which turn little or no profit are important to you, and that you're concerned H.R.5469.EH might keep them from operating. Let them know that Internet radio does not allow "perfect copies" any more than broadcast radio does. And remind them that you're a music consumer - sometimes your "buying power" is the only thing a politician understands.
Mr. Leahy may be reached at email@example.com. Click here to reach the senators from your state. If we all make our voices heard, we may be able to save one of the most important forms of independent media today.