WTMD is listener-supported radio from the campus of Towson University.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Public Radio Webcasting Fees

Friends,

On March 2nd, The Copyright Loyalty Board issued a ruling that will dramatically increase the royalty payments owed to rights holders to stream sound recordings of music on the Internet, including public radio stations like WTMD.

While all of us in public radio believe the people who write and perform the music we play should be fairly compensated, this decision raises the fees and creates a complex reporting system that some stations feel is so complex that discontinuing web streaming of our signals could be considered.

The CRB affects Public Radio stations because it:

  • Eliminates the distinction between noncommercial and commercial media

  • Requires burdensome, complicated record-keeping

  • Penalizes public radio for its mission of bringing new music and artists to the American Public.

  • Sets a chilling precedent for future rights discussions for over the air broadcasts that could compromise public radio's ability to deliver noncommercial programming to our listeners.

As we study exactly what affect this decision will have on WTMD, one thing is clear. Additional expenses at the level the CRB is suggesting could require WTMD to eliminate current services and not have the resources to fund additional programming projects.

Public Radio has appealed ton Congress to help keep public service web streaming viable. The Internet Radio Equality Act (H.R. 2060 Text of Bill) would change this ruling by providing rights holders reasonable royalty payments while protecting noncommercial public radio webcasters like WTMD. As of May 9, two Maryland Representatives are cosponsors, Roscoe Bartlett (R-6th) and Elijah Cummings (D-7th).

UPDATE: May 10 3:30 PM--Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) today introduced the "Internet Radio Equality Act" in the Senate.

UPDATE: May 30th 5:00 PM-- Tell Them Public Matters has a variety of resources for you to use to tell your Congress people how you feel about this issue.

You can learn more at Save Net Radio. Bug has created a list of resources about this decision and we will be updating this post as these bills that could resolve the situation move forward, so check back often.

UPDATE: Here is a list of Cosponors for HR 2060. If your Congressperson is not on the list, please send them an email and ask them to become a Cosponsor.

Stephen Yasko
General Manager

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe that it is encumbent upon all listeners to support this proposed legislation by contacting their federally elected legislators and registering your comments with their offices. This can be done via email as well as snail mail or telephonically.

If new legislation is not soon passed to rectify this problem, there is more than likely chance that all webcasting of music will vanish. I hope that everyone does their part to see that this legislation passes.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually in favor of the exhorbitant rate hike. Some systems need to be pushed to extremes before they break. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act pushed copyright law to the edge (at least). The new rates might push it over.

The new rates will create a webcasting drought that is really an opportunity for artists who haven't been sucked into the recording industry/copyright hawk vortex to release their music more freely to eager webcasters in need of free or lower-cost content. The recording industry dinosaur will hopefully have met its meteor.

Steve said...

Actually poster #2, the rate is only half the story. The CRB ruling also creates a very complex reporting structure that penalizes stations for including independent artists in their stream.

WTMD would have count every song played and the number of folks who listened to that song. That may seem simple, but it's just one aspect of the reporting process. I figure WTMD would need one full time person just to do the reporting.

And...If we wanted to do a stream that was just independent artists not represented by a record label, I would have to have paperwork on every song from the artist granting permission. And if that artist is ever signed, I would have to remove that artist from the stream.

At that point, it's too big a project for public service. Web streams cost big bucks to run, and we're happy to do it, but it's very hard to raise the money it costs to run it from the folks who use it.

I really think, carried to the absurd end, this CRB ruling would leave only the record lables in the streaming game, streaming only their own songs.

So when you couple the fee and the reporting, this is a very very bad deal for independent artists.

Steve said...

I just reread my comment and thought I should add this thought for clarity.

Sites like Myspace would have have to have a team of lawyers and rights folks monitoring everyone's page to make sure no copyrighted material was used...so these sites that attract traffic would most likely stop music distribution because of the cost of monitoring and the possible lawsuites if they made an error.

Then all we are left with is independent artists posting on their own sites and are then deprived (since streams like WTMD's and high traffic sites like myspace would not be distributing their songs) of larger audiences that "content aggregators" provide.

I hope that makes sense.
steve

Khoa said...

I think they should not have to pay for broadcasting publicly. When people listen to radio, the radios station or the websites do not own the material, they just "help" bringing the material "to" listeners, and listeners just listen to the material, they can not copy or download it, legally; and another point, broadcasting music on radio has been a tradition, a culture in this society, charging money is going against and possibly will break this "norm".

Khoa said...

I think they should not have to pay for broadcasting publicly. When people listen to radio, the radios station or the websites do not own the material, they just "help" bringing the material "to" listeners, and listeners just listen to the material, they can not copy or download it, legally; and another point, broadcasting music on radio has been a tradition, a culture in this society, charging money is going against and possibly will break this "norm".

Colton said...

I personally think that the fees should be increased. Public radio is going out to anyone who wants to listen to it. So since they are using other peoples music broadcasted to everyone, than they should have to pay the artist more because of it. The artist deserves more money, and more money should go to the artist.

Colton said...

I personally think that the fees should be increased. Public radio is going out to anyone who wants to listen to it. So since they are using other people's music broadcasted to everyone, than they should have to pay the artist more because of it. The artist deserves more money, and more money should go to the artist.

Steve said...

Khoa and Colton certainly put their fingers right on the crux of all of this! And like all things, the resolution to all this lies somewhere in the middle.

Public radio believes that copyright holders are entitled to fair compensation for the use of their works. Of course, the word "fair" is up for debate.

The current CRB ruling makes the fee so high that, I believe, most public radio stations, and even commercial radio stations and other internet service fees, will go dark. That, then, will actually reduce the money the artists get because there will be fewer and fewer organizations paying into the pot that gets divided up and handed out to the copyright holders.

The Internet Equality Act now in Congress would preserve the fees paid to artists, and recognize the public service nature of stations like WTMD, WXPN, KEXP, WYEP, WFUV and the hundreds of others that stream music--be it classical, jazz, or music WTMD plays.

I hope you'll learn more about the act (click on the links in the main post) and if you have an opinion, remember, you can let your folks in Congress know!

Anonymous said...

I view this action of Congress to try and raise the taxes on Internet Radio as industrial favoritism. This is when the government takes the side of one company or industry over the other, and therefore gives more benefits to the one company and more penalties to the other. I am a big supported of a free market, I don’t think that the government should take the side of the Big Radio Companies like “Clear Channel” nor do I think they should take the side of the little Internet sites, nor any other form of radio like HD or Satellite. Radio should be taxed equally depending on either their listener base or their profits. There is no reason to raise the royalty payments for internet users, yes people could illegal copy it but unlike LimeWire or other such organizations Internet Radio doesn’t exist for the pure purpose of illegal download, that would be like arresting a knife shop owner for an assault. Let the people decide which of the 2 forms of Radio will survive, let the people buy what they want.

Steve said...

Dear Anon-just-above,

I would encourage you to take a look at some of the stories about this issue. The Copyright Royalty Board is responsible for the decision to raise the Licensing fees. They are not a tax, as you are not forced to stream. Congress is not mandating this, though as the CRB's "boss," if you will, they can overturn their decisions. That is what the Internet Equality Act is asking Congress to do.

I do think there is a HUGE difference betwenn commercial webstreamers and radio stations and Non Commercial Radio stations who stream, like WTMD. Our public service mission is not revenue driven in this area. We don't want to turn our stream off or limit it to "paying" streamers. We simply want congress to recognize that difference.

Steve

Anonymous said...

I think that it's necessary for the royalties not to be increased because small internet radio companies will not be able to pay the royalties to the artists and they will be forced to be shut down. If the royalties were increased 300 to 1200 times what they are right now there won’t be any internet radio after a little bit because no internet radio or internet radio companies. Not having internet radio will lower the accessibility of people to listen to music which isn’t right people need to know what is out there.

Branden said...

I think that it's necessary for the royalties not to be increased because small internet radio companies will not be able to pay the royalties to the artists and they will be forced to be shut down. If the royalties were increased 300 to 1200 times what they are right now there won’t be any internet radio after a little bit because no internet radio or internet radio companies. Not having internet radio will lower the accessibility of people to listen to music which isn’t right people need to know what is out there.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's necessary for the royalties to keep lower because of the to high and expensive.And i think they should live the internet radio for the people so they can have a oportunity to tried to be and artist. js

Anonymous said...

I think that that they should keep internet radio because it gives a chance for new artists because every time you turn on the radio you’ll hear akon and after a while that gets annoying. And internet radio usually plays songs that you'll never hear on some place like 99.5

Mike said...

I think that it is most definitely appropriate for the fees to increase for rayalties. The arguement however could be that artist just want to be heard, but the amount of time and effort put into their music should give them something in return(in this case, royalty money). Its not like all internet radio stations will be terminated. Yes, most small broadcasters will have to shut down, but its a question of fairness in my opinion. Its fair to all the artist and record companies and fair to the broadcastors. However its not fair to the people. We lose our freedom of chioce when it comes to listening to music. Does it mean that this act could bring back true artists? Artist that only get played because there truley good?

Anonymous said...

I believe that there can be both good and bad from royalty increases. The good is in the artist's compensation. The bad, a part from the article proclaims, " The CRB affects Public Radio stations because it""Penalizes public radio for its mission of bringing new music and artists to the American Public". This seems horrible. But what will happen when the big artist's who get played on big stations end their carrers. Someone will have to rise and bring new music to the public.
Therefore big radio stations will have to play new artist's because of demand and the old ones get old.

Nik said...

believe this new act is vital to the continuing of internet radio and exploration of new, up and coming artists. Why should, public radio be penalized for trying to do something nice for the community and bring new independent artists music abroad to the public? Web casting is another form of communication in order to bring music towards to our ears. Commercial radios are already sponsored; public radios are already in need of money, so why make the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. I know big businesses and corporations are trying to monopolize the economy and become like Wal-mart, and push the small businesses and mom and pop stores away, but who will be the voice of the underdog and stand up to this unfair practice by the Copyright Loyalty Board? If corporate America will increase prices, why not do it at a gradual increase, so they are not dropping a bomb on internet radio. This is like the gas situation, the prices will go sky high, but eventually comeback down sooner or later. The CLB is just trying t make a bold statement in my opinion.

Jay said...

Internet Radio I believe that the Internet Radio Equality Act should be accepted and enforced so that internet radio channels that are non-commercial can thrive and continue on with their services. Without these non-commercial radio stations, all of the mainstream music that we as a society would hear on the radio or online would be controlled by just a few people, creating a kind of radio Oligarchy. This would, in turn, create a void for non- commercial bands and make it harder for "nobodies" to make something of themselves and get their music out there.
As was covered in the article, such royalties would cripple non-commercial radio stations, or listener-supported stations, such as WTMD. Theoretically removing what said stations are trying to accomplish: bring new music and artists to the American public. The CRB shouldn't penalize an artist that they don't consider worthy of being on the air, as well as targeting the stations that are playing these bands and artists music. It's nothing more than a display of raw power that the CRB is using to make the airwaves even more mainstream then they already are and to make a few higher-ups happy.

Anonymous said...

First we have policing via remote cameras on our street corners, now we are in the midst of a war to keep non commercial internet radio on the internet. This fee hike just like BGE's rate hike isn't fair to anyone and just hurts everyone all around. My husband is a local musician fighting to get a foot hold in the local music scene and its already clear that the only way we can get our music heard is through internet streaming by stations like TMD. And, if TMD can't stream because of the rate hike then where do local artist go that want wide range exposure. We work at self promotion 24 hours a day and we still only reach a small percentage of the possible listening audience. And a proposed rate hike on any station that streams independent artsits will cut chances of a local artist being heard at all. I strongly dislike what I hear on most commercial stations anyway and I seek out stations like TMD on the web and radio because of their fresh and lively content. And, maybe this propsed rate hike is exactly what we need to encourage us to be better supports of our public stations. Until now I sort of took it for granted that public radio would always have a place on the web.