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April 17, 2007
No, Mr Web Radio. I Expect You To DIE!
The Copyright Review Board has affirmed its decision to kill Web radio by imposing retroactive per-song/per-station fees, regardless of whether fee amounts have any relationship to station revenues. The CRB refused to review its earlier decision, and it's not clear whether there's any course of appeal. Nominally, NPR could carry its campaign to CAFC, but that's a slim hope.
Really what needs to happen is that Congress needs to intervene. In an interesting twist, writes Olga Kharif for Businessweek's Tech Beat, the CRB ruling is drawn quite broadly, meaning that for the first time fees will apply to "any company broadcasting music over cellular networks." Kharif seems to think that the big cell providers will not want the Cartel chewing away at their profit margins and thus will move Congress to act. Personally, I think they'll just pass the costs on to consumers and call it a day.
Interestingly, this is a US-based decision. Web radio elsewhere in the world can continue to thrive. It's unclear to me whether those non-US stations would be required to block me if I tried to tune in from a US-located IP address.
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