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April 30, 2007
Will Congress Rescue Internet Radio?
Proposed legislation - the Internet Radio Equality Act - would roll back the Copyright Board's regressive new fee structure, giving us back the flat-fee revenue-based method that has let the industry grow this far. The proposal is for a flat 7.5% of revenue through 2010.
The bill appears to be largely the result of a successful Internet campaign that, according to the CNN story linked above, has generated over 400,000 emailed complaints to Congress about the new fees. That's a good number both in terms of its impact on this discussion and in terms of showing that Internet radio is developing a significant, motivated, audience.
Unfortunately, the bill doesn't solve anything in the immediate future. Even if it passes and is signed quickly its implementation is still months away. Something like a court order would be needed to stay the implementation of the new CRB fees in about two weeks, an event that will likely cause most non-big-commercial Web radio to go dark, even if only for a while. That could be significantly harmful and might be enough to kill much of the alternative streaming community in the US regardless of what Congress does.
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