I woke up today and the sun was shining, and I’d like to think I had something to do with with it. Internet radio is still standing, at least for now.
Months ago I signed a petition to save internet radio, sent emails to my congressman, performed ritual rain dances in hopes that I could always listen to one of my favorite internet radio “stations”, Pandora. This morning I am happy to report that my Explosions in the Sky station is working just fine.
Internet radio, particularly small and non-commercial webcasters like Pandora and Live365, received the proverbial reprieve from the governor July 12 when SoundExchange Executive Director John L. Simson told a House Commerce committee that they could continue streaming this week without “fear or threat of legal action against them”. (RAIN coverage.)
SoundExchange is the first organization in the U.S. designated to collect performance royalties for sound recording copyright owners and featured and non-featured artists. (SoundExchange faq). A payment scheme of per-channel minimum fees, which would effectively have crippled small and non-commercial webcasters, was being sought by the Copyright Royalty Board.
SoundExchange’s decision not to enforce new royalty rates, which were due to go into effect Sunday, does not mean Internet radio is saved. Far from it. Negotiations must continue in good faith and result in a workable royalty rate. And those pesky Congress folks will be looking over the shoulders of all parties involved. Kind of reminds me of Major League Baseball’s labor negotiations.
“It was getting pretty close,” Westergren told Wired. “I always had underlying optimism that sanity was going to prevail, but I was beginning to wonder.”