Despite the denial of an emergency stay petition by the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, online radio has received a temporary reprieve from it's almost certain death sentence, as Congress and SoundExchange, the performance rights organization, have come to a temporary agreement. This action will allow small and noncommercial webcasters like Pandora, Rhapsody, and Live365 to continue streaming after the original deadline of Sunday July 15, "without fear of the threat of legal action against them, and may continue doing so as long as good-faith negotiations between the parties are continuing.", according to SoundExchange executive director John Simson. According to Wired, the deal is not final but creates a window for webcasters to continue broadcasting while a more lasting solution is sought.All of this hubbub came about as a result of the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) increasing Internet radio's royalty burden between 300 and 1200 percent back on March 2nd, possibly forcing some providers to shut down. At a minimum fee of $500 per pop for rights, regardless of the number of channels, it would have been difficult for many services to continue streaming. However, in the last couple of weeks, Sound Exchange proposed a cap on "minimum" fees of $50,000 per service — that's $500 per channel up to a maximum of 100 channels.
Simson said there were two conditions attached to this solution,. however: "First, that they become much more complaint in their reporting obligations —only 3 of the top 20 webcasters are in perfect compliance, and only 11 have even tried — and we need to move to census as soon as we can. And we asked for their help with stream ripping, to work on a technologically-feasible solution." Simson said he thought DiMA(Digital Media Associates) found both conditions acceptable.
As Kurt Hanson of RAIN states, although SoundExchange has not offered to put this commitment in writing, it would be hard for them to renege on a commitment they made in front of key Congressmen. So all of you Internet radio fans, breathe a sigh of relief; there still might be light at the end of the tunnel afterall. Stay tuned...
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