Thursday, April 26, 2007

Breaking News: New Streaming Radio Legislation Being Introduced

Hot off the presses at RAIN...

The Internet Radio Equality Act (.pdf) has just been introduced (in mid-afternoon) by Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA, pictured right) and eight cosponsors, with more cosponsors on the bill expected shortly.

The bill has five major provisions:

* Nullifies the recent decision of the CRB judges

* Changes the royalty rate-setting standard that applies to Internet radio royalty arbitrations in the future so that it is the same standard that applies to satellite radio royalty arbitrations -- the 801(b)(1) standard that balances the needs of copyright owners, copyright users, and the public (rather than "willing buyer / willing seller"). (For more detail on this point, read the recent RAIN issue on "Copyright law," here.)

* Instructs future CRBs that the minimum annual royalty per service may be set no higher than $500.

* Establishes a "transitional" royalty rate, until the 2011-15 CRB hearing is held, of either .33 cents per listener hour, or 7.5% of annual revenues, as selected by the provider for that year. Those rates would be applied retroactively to January 1, 2006. (The logic behind this rate, incidentally, is an attempt to match the royalty rate that satellite radio pays for this royalty -- thus the name of the bill.)

* Expands the Copyright Act’s Section 118 musical work license for noncommercial webcasters to enable noncomms to also perform sound recordings over Internet radio at royalty rates designed for noncommercial entities, and sets an transition royalty at 150% of the royalty amount paid by each webcaster in 2004 for their "musical works" royalty (i.e., to ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC).

Now that the bill has been introduced, the "call to action" is specific and direct: The site is now asking listeners to call their Representative and ask him/her to "cosponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act, introduced by Representative Jay Inslee." Once listeners click the "Call Your Representatives" button on the site and enter their zip code, they are given their Representative's House office phone number and a list of "talking points" to emphasize.

A copy of the bill in its current form (without an "H.R. ____" number attached to it yet), in .pdf form, is available here. More details tomorrow in RAIN.

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