Lawmakers write bill to save Internet radio


Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) and Rick Boucher
(D-Va.) have introduced a bill intended to ease the burden new royalty fees will
impose on Webcasters.

"Congress should support creative and innovative uses for new technology, not
drive small Web-radio broadcasters out of business with huge fees," Inslee said.

Radio broadcasters and Webcasters have been complaining that the Library of
Congress' recent decision requiring them to pay royalties to record companies
for songs played over the Internet will put them out of business.

Inslee's, Nethercutt's and Boucher's bill would exempt from royalties all
small businesses that earn less than $6 million in annual gross revenue. It also
would exempt them from having to pay legal fees to participate in future
proceedings at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Small broadcasters and Webcasters said the cost of participating in the
copyright arbitration royalty panel (known as CARP) kept their opinions from
being heard.

The bill also would eliminate fees for what are known as "ephemeral
recordings" -- copies that servers make of streaming content that have little or
no economic value.

The bill would also require future arbitration panels to use a different
standard to determine what royalties should be.

This time, the CARP used what is called a "willing buyer/willing seller"
standard, which caused the CARP to use one deal between Yahoo! Inc. and the recording
industry to determine what level of royalty rates the market would tolerate.

But many Webcasters said that one deal was the exception and not the rule,
and it should not have been used to guide judges in determining a final rate.

Inslee, the bill was introduced just one day after a
bill by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) that would grant content providers certain
rights to prevent their copyrighted works from being distributed via
peer-to-peer networks over the Internet.