Possibly Fatal Blow Dealt to Web Radio

As my friend Praemedia wrote me about this, everyone’s so caught up in the shootings that this story is under the radar — but I think it’s *huge* news. Snip from BBC:

US webcasters will face sharp rises in royalty fees that could be “fatal” to the nascent industry, a coalition of web broadcasters has claimed.
The increases will start on 15 May and will eventually charge royalties every time an online listener hears a song.
The decision to impose the fees was made by a panel of judges who threw out requests to overturn an earlier ruling.
Public and commercial broadcasters claim it will force cuts to services used by an estimated 50 million people.
“If these rates stand… I believe we’ll see a virtual shutdown all of US webcasting,” wrote Kurt Hanson, CEO of AccuRadio, on the SaveInternetRadio.org blog.

Update: The SaveNetRadio Coalition has a petition to sign that you should check out, and Cliff emails me with the comment,

Most interesting are the nuts and bolts of how ridiculously expensive the billing will become. ‘The recent ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board to increase webcasters’ royalty rates between 300 and 1200 percent over the next 5 years jeopardizes the industry and threatens to homogenize Internet radio.’
And I read it’s retroactive to beginning of 2006. That means small radios stations don’t even have a fighting chance. WE’RE DOOMED!! ;-}
Seriously, though, we’re doomed. If this royalty law exists, consider future net radio as sonically similar to the lifeless and bland world of commercial broadcast radio we’ve suffered through all these pre-Web years. No SOMA FM, no funky college stations (including possibly the amazing KCRW), and all the other smaller players with interesting ears.

And Nobilis emails me saying,

Yes, web radio stations that play licensed music from RIAA publishers are probably finished. I think many stations will just turn to creative commons music, of which there is an ever increasing quantity. I don’t think internet radio is dead, but I think it will be radically transformed.

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