Webcasters are planning a “Day of Silence” on Tuesday, June 26, to protest new Internet broadcast royalty rates scheduled to go into effect on July 15 in the United States. On June 26, participatingWebcasters will shut down their feeds to both bring attention to their cause and give Internet radio listeners a taste of what life might be like if new royalty rates go into effect. Some webcastersplan to shut down their feeds entirely; others will sprinkle announcements about the rate hike amidst stretches of silence.
“The campaign to save Internet radio—a genuine grassroots movement comprised of hundreds of thousands of webcasters, artists and independent labels, and Net radio listeners—has quickly brought this issue to the national forefront and the halls of Congress, but there is still more to be done before the approaching deadline of July 15th,” said Jake Ward, a spokesperson for the SaveNetRadio Coalition. “On Tuesday, thousands of webcasters will call on their millions of listeners to join the fight to save Internet radio and contact their Congressional representatives to ask for their support of the Internet Radio Equality Act
In March, the Copyright Royalty Board passed new rules which will nearly triple the royalty rates Web-based broadcasters must pay for music played over Internet radio stations. Webcasters have decried the rate changes, saying the new rates will force the majority of online broadcaster to shut down their services. Activists have been lobbying for at least a delay in the rate hike, but so far, the Copyright Royalty Board has denied motions put forward by webcasters and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to re-open the hearings, saying none of the new motions showed any new evidence or a clear error in process. The Digital Media Association, National Public Radio, and a coalition of commercial webcasters have also filed a request for a stay on the new royalty rates with the Washingont D.C. circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Legislation proposed in both the U.S. House and Senate would apply the royalty rates paid by satellite radio to webcasts, meaning webcasters would pay royalties based on a percentage of their revenue rather than a flat fee per track. So far, none of the proposed legislation has been put to a vote.
Online music fans interested in following the effort to overturn the soon-to-be imposed royalty rates can get information from SaveNetRadio, including information on contacting legislators and participating in online actions and awareness campaigns. Online webcasters participating in the Day of Silence action include Yahoo, Rhapsody, the Live365 stations, MTV Online, Pandora, RadioIO, Ear.fm, and dozens of other webcasters.
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