On Friday, which is generally accepted in public relations circles as the best day of the week to release controversial news, the United States Copyright Royalty Board announced new royalty rates for webcasts, effective from 2006 to 2010.
The board ignored the arguments of the International Webcasting Association and other webcasters, and apparently simply endorsed the proposal of the RIAA-associated SoundExchange royalty organization, which represents the major and some indie labels.
Follow the link for the details on the new rates, but the bottom line is that “the rate would render Internet radio unsustainable, or at the very least, more ad-laden than terrestrial radio” and that’s before the songwriters get their cut.
The situation looks grim for webcasters large and small. Even tiny sites would owe the minimum of $500 per channel per year, which could also have implications for webcasters who provide customized radio stations, since the CRB does not define whether those would each constitute a “channel” (whatever that is). Webcasters have a 15-day period to ask the CRB to rehear arguments.
As an example of the customized approach, there is Live 365 Internet Radio which allows individuals to program their own personal “stations.” I suspect there won’t be too many of them left if this decision holds up. Of course, it only applies to music, so I guess we can expect unlimited amounts of amateur talk radio, if anyone cares.