On Friday, I was informed of some disturbing news concerning Internet radio streaming and webcasting. The United States Copyright Board has made the decision to increase the royalty rates for streamed audio to the point where webcasters are not just paying royalties for each song the play, but each song that is listened to by a listener (read more about from RAIN). This is very disturbing news, as the new rates could mean one of two things, first the burden of popular radio stations having to pay royalty rates higher than their revenue, second being a lack of access (financially) to hobbyist who have used Internet radio for some time, and third the increase of fees from services that cover the royalty fees (such as Live365 and Loudcity) or possibly their shutdowns (which is an extreme case, I hope!). This could have a very dramatic impact to those radio stations who cater to specific niches such as MMOG’s or are independent broadcasters.
For DJ’s and broadcasters like myself, I’m unsure what this spells out, and the issue becomes very, very confusing (for more insight into the decision read here from the Broadcast Law Blog), but just as deadly. DJ’s may have to increase their fees for playing in Second Life, but also it could mean that those interested in DJing may never get the proper opportunity to. It looks like a very bleak at the moment for webcasters and fellow DJ’s. Although there are movements to help change this decision (see: Save our Internet Radio). Hopefully congress will intervene (as they did with the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002), but it still remains to be seen what the fate of Internet based radio and webcasting would be with the result of these decisions.
This is disturbing news indeed!