August 02, 2007

Wyden, Brownback Call CRB Rates for Webcasters "Unfounded"

Promise to move forward with "Internet Radio Equality Act" unless progress is made by Labor Day

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan), Senate sponsors of the "Internet Radio Equality Act" released the following statement today regarding efforts to save Internet radio:

"We sponsored the Internet Radio Equality Act because the Copyright Royalty Board's decision to dramatically increase royalties and apply what we see as unfounded minimum rates threatens to devastate the Internet radio industry. The fact is online radio services do not have enough revenue to support what will amount to unprecedented royalties. The $500 per channel minimum fee alone will deliver an over $1 billion annual windfall to record companies, a windfall that is not justified by any business or equity considerations.

"Now we are hearing that the recording industry is attempting to use this aspect of the CRB decision to force webcasters to adopt recording restrictions far in excess of the controls that have governed broadcast content for decades. While we strongly support a negotiated solution, we will not allow the minimum fee issue to be used to force an agreement that mandates DRM technology and fails to respect the established principles of fair use and consumer rights.

"After the July 15 deadline came and went we were pleased to learn that SoundExchange was negotiating with webcasters, and we expected to avoid pushing forward with this legislation. But, as Congress heads into its August recess, we are troubled by the lack of negotiating progress being reported. Broadcasters report that their June 6 offer to SoundExchange has yet to warrant a response, and webcasters report that negotiating meetings with SoundExchange are proving difficult to schedule.

"Internet radio is crucial to many segments of business and culture - to small and large webcasters building sustainable businesses; to independent artists trying to make it in a crowded industry; and to millions of music fans searching for new diverse music that corporate radio generally does not offer. Innovation and creativity are the winners if Internet radio flourishes, and are the losers if Internet radio stagnates.

"If great progress toward a fair solution for webcasters is not made by Congress's return to Washington after Labor Day, then we plan to take expeditious steps toward passage of the Internet Radio Equality Act. We feel the Senate must take action, and we will make every effort move the Internet Radio Equality Act to the floor."