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.