Save Net Radio and Music Diversity

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To compare Internet radio to traditional radio, satellite radio, or digital music channels on cable is ridiculous. Most Internet radio sites are just ordinary people who enjoy listening to music and they make it available for their friends to listen to, too. As I understand it, the sharing of music in this manner is protected by copyright laws, so long as the playlist is not divulged ahead of time.

Other stations are far more professional, actually sounding like “real” stations, with station identifications, sponsorship announcements, or even sometimes advertisements. But do not mistake them for profitable, traditional radio stations. These stations are popular for offering a free service to their listeners. As a result, the listeners use large amounts of bandwidth to receive the music. This results in a very real cost to the webcasters, and the ads often barely cover the costs. Many webcasters have to give up webcasting when they become popular, simply because it is too expensive to continue.

And now the music industry is attempting to capture more “lost profits” by taxing these people right out of business. Obviously artists and the people involved in making the music deserve compensation, but, as usual, the industry is going way beyond reason with their efforts.

As you probably know, the Copyright Royalty Board has decided to raise music royalty rates by 300 to 1200 percent. Worse yet, there is no “grace period” or “phasing in” of these new fees to allow webcasters the opportunity to develop new business models or attract advertisers to pay this new tax.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. The Board has made these taxes retroactive back to January 2006. This will utterly devastate most webcaster’s bank accounts, forcing them to shut down and probably declare bankruptcy. How extremely sad for people just offering a free service to people around the world.

The silencing of Internet radio would be a blow to listeners like me who enjoy the wide variety of choices only available via Internet radio. This will kill the great diversity of music that I hear over the Internet and all the independent artists who have a difficult time breaking through on other forms of radio.

I respectfully request that Congress look into this matter and take action to prevent it. Please understand that time is of the essence since the new royalty rates are retroactive to January 1, 2006 so they will cause immediate bankruptcies if they become effective for even one day. Please don’t let the music die.

Thank you for your consideration,
Will Murray


I am sending the above letter to:

  • Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA 5th)

I will post any replies I receive as comments to this message.

You can send a letter to your Congressional representatives by visiting http://SaveNetRadio.org/

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2 thoughts on “Save Net Radio and Music Diversity

  1. Automated response from Senator Boxer:

    Dear Friend:
    Thank you for your e-mail message and for your interest in public policy.
    In order to better serve the 36 million residents of California, I am now using an e-mail system located on my Senate website. This system enables me to provide more and better responses to you and other constituents while saving taxpayer dollars. (Unfortunately, limited resources do not allow me to respond to e-mails generated by third-party organizations.)
    If you would like a reply to your message, I encourage you to visit my website e-mail system at http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/email/policy.cfm
    Simply fill in the fields, type in your message, and click “Submit” at the bottom of the page.
    Again, thank you for contacting me. I hope you will keep in touch.
    Sincerely,
    Barbara Boxer
    United States Senator

  2. Pertinent response received today from Representative Matsui:

    Dear Will:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding access to internet radio. As your representative in Congress, one of the most important aspects of my job is to stay informed of the thoughts and opinions of my constituents. I thank you for taking the time to contact me on this important matter.

    As you may know, last month I cosponsored the Internet Radio Equality Act (H.R. 2060). Signing onto this bipartisan bill was an effort to sustain the diversity and variety that internet radio brings to listeners. Recent decisions by the Copyright Royalty Board raised royalty rates for internet radio providers. This decision would incur inequitable costs on smaller, independent internet radio stations and users. If passed, H.R. 2060 would revise the method of calculating royalty rates to apply the same rate-setting standard as satellite radio. This bill will maximize the availability of creative works to the public while ensuring that artists earn a fair return on copyrighted work.

    A corresponding bill was introduced in the Senate and both have been referred to committee. I will be sure to keep a close eye on the progress of this legislation, and your comments will be with me should it come to the House floor for a vote. Again, thank you for contacting my office about this issue and I hope you will continue to keep in touch on all matters of concern. To learn more about my work in Congress or sign up for periodic e-mail updates, please visit http://www.matsui.house.gov.

    Sincerely,

    DORIS O. MATSUI
    Member of Congress

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