Internet stations go silent

Thousands of Internet radio stations in America will cease broadcasting for 24 hours tomorrow (June 26th) in a protest against the Copyright Royalty Board. They have announced increased royalty fees that could lead to virtual shutdown of the country’s Internet radio industry.

The board want to move the broadcasters rate from paying per song, to paying per-song, per-listener. Meaning if a station has 100 listeners, it will have to pay 100 times every time it plays a single song.

The new rates are set to come into force on July 15th — but Internet broadcasters are expected to make payments, back dated to January 1st 2006.

Many webcasters are planning to shut off access to their streams entirely, while other webcasters plan to replace their music streams with long periods of silence (or static or ocean sounds or similar) interspersed with occasional brief public service announcements on the subject.

Internet-only webcasters and broadcasters that simulcast online will alert their listeners that "silence" is what Internet radio may be reduced to after July 15th, the day on which 17 months' worth of retroactive royalty payments — at new, exceedingly high rates — are due to the SoundExchange collection organization, following a recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision.

"The arbitrary and drastic rate increases set by the Copyright Royalty Board on March 2nd threaten the very livelihood of thousands of webcasters and their millions of listeners throughout the country," said Jake Ward, a spokesperson for the SaveNetRadio Coalition. "The campaign to save Internet radio – a genuine grassroots movement comprised of hundreds of thousands of webcasters, artists and independent labels, and Net radio listeners – has quickly brought this issue to the national forefront and the halls of Congress, but there is still more to be done before the approaching deadline of July 15th. On Tuesday, thousands of webcasters will call on their millions of listeners to join the fight to save Internet radio and contact their Congressional representatives to ask for their support of the Internet Radio Equality Act."

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