Where There’s Power, There’s Dissent: SaveNetRadio Committed to Fight Internet Royalty Hikes

As reported in March, the new royalty regulations created by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), in which internet radio rates will dramatically increase 149% over the 1999-2005 period, pissed off NPR. "These new rates, at least 20 times more than what stations have paid in the past, treat us as if we were commercial radio — although by its nature, public radio cannot increase revenue from more listeners or more content, the factors that set this new rate," said NPR's Andi Sporkin.

Since then, the internet royalty hike has generated dissent aplenty. The Digital Media Association (DiMA), Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, Inc., Small Commercial Webcasters, and National Public Radio (NPR) used their pull on March 20 to get an order to allow motions for a rehearing. It seemed at least somewhat hopeful that the CRB would reconsider the rates that will, among other things, bankrupt small-time internet radio stations, cripple independent artists, homogenize internet radio, and of course piss off TMT.

But to the dismay of radio peeps and humans all over, the CRB yesterday officially denied motions for a rehearing (read the PDF here): "Having reviewed all motions, responses to those motions, and written arguments, the Judges now deny all such motions," stated the five-page document. "We find, however, that none of the moving parties have made a sufficient showing of new evidence or a clear error or manifest injustice that would warrant a rehearing."

While organizations that represent major recording labels and artists, like SoundExchange, applauded the CRB's denial, various stations and artists effectively said "fuck off" by announcing yesterday a new group called SaveNetRadio, a group committed to fighting the rates. Although SaveNetRadio's member list has not been revealed, it received public support from organizations like Live365 and Pandora.

"Before this ruling was handed down, the vast majority of webcasters were barely making ends meet as internet radio advertising revenue is just beginning to develop," said the group in a statement. "Without a doubt, most internet radio services will go bankrupt and cease webcasting if this royalty rate is not reversed by the Congress, and webcasters' demise will mean a great loss of creative and diverse radio." Various humans at my local record shop had this to add: "Fuck the CRB."

And for your reference, check out the new rates established by the CRB (from Live365):

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