Well, the RIAA is trying to screw the American consumer yet again. This time their target? Internet Radio.
On March 2nd, the US Copyright Office approved a petition by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to increase the level of royalty fees levied against Internet radio stations, both independent and commercial broadcasters.
"Under this royalty structure, an Internet radio station with an average listenership of 1000 people would owe $134,000 in royalties during 2007 - plus $98,000 in back payments for 2006. In 2008 they would owe $171,000, and $220,000 in 2009," according to SaveOurInternetRadio.com. "There is no way for a station with 1000 listeners to make that kind of money. That’s over $11 per listener per month in 2007. No Internet radio station currently operating comes even close to that kind of income. Also keep in mind that 1000 listeners is not a large number. Popular stations like Radio Paradise, SOMA, Digitally Imported, radioio, etc have many times that many listeners."
"In other words, if they are allowed to stand these rates are a death sentence for independent Internet radio stations. The only stations that would survive would be those who can afford to operate at that kind of loss, such as AOL (who would owe over $20,000,000 in 2006, far in excess of their income from radio)."
What does this mean for the listener? Most independent broadcasters, like Joe Smith in his basement with his broadcasting software will be forced to stop. Broadcasters like these make up most of the stations listed on sites like Live365.com. Not only will this create a loss of revenue for these sites (no broadcasters, no site, no advertising revenue), many people will be out of jobs and will result is less and less listening options for you and I. Stations that operate on a commercial level (think FM radio) may be forced to start charging for listening to their stations online. This goes against the very nature of the public domain of the Internet.
I implore you to take action while you are angry about this. There is pending legislation in the US House of Representatives known as the Internet Radio Equality Act introduced by Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL). This is a good first step but it is by no means a done deal. We need activism to win the battle against the RIAA and tell them once and for all that we are sick and tired of their greed and scare tactics - remember when they were suing 12-year-olds for "illegally" downloading music? There are several sites which I will list at the end of this post for your to visit to educate yourself on this subject as well as a link to a petition you can be apart of.
Music piracy is not what the RIAA makes it out to be. Most end users of an Internet connection and mp3-playing software are not out to "steal" music for the sake of the almighty dollar. Music piracy is done for and to make a profit for the pirate - someone who copies music to re-sell without paying royalties to the record label of the artist. There is evidence to support that most of this kind of piracy [music] is done in Asia, not in the United States. Maybe the RIAA should pressure the government to create trade tariffs against those countries that support through either complacency or ignorance the act of music piracy. This would be a more effective form of anti-piracy legislation and one I'm sure the Internet Radio world would support more than current laws.
Save Internet Radio
Save Internet Radio Petition
Contact Your Congressperson