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Congress Proposes Internet Radio Equality Act

The SaveNetRadio coalition
today applauded Jay Inslee (D-WA) for introducing legislation that
could save thousands of webcasters from bankruptcy. “The Internet Radio
Equality Act” would reverse a March 2nd ruling by the Copyright Royalty
Board (CRB) that increased the fees webcasters pay to play music online
by a stunning 300 to 1200 percent.

“Since the CRB’s March 2nd decision to dramatically and unfairly
increase webcaster royalty rates, millions of Internet radio listeners,
webcasters and artists have called on Congress to take action,” said
Jake Ward of the SaveNetRadio coalition. “Today Congress took notice,
and we thank Mr. Inslee for leading the charge to save music diversity
on the Internet.”

The Internet Radio Equality Act would vacate the CRB’s decision and set
a 2006-2010 royalty rate at the same level currently paid by satellite
radio services (7.5% of revenue.) The bill would also change the
royalty rate- setting standard used in royalty arbitrations, so that
the standards applying to webcasters would align with the standard that
applies to satellite radio royalty arbitrations.

“The illogical and unrealistic royalty rates set by the CRB have placed
the future of an entire industry in jeopardy,” stated Ward. “This bill
is a critical step to preserve this vibrant and growing medium, and to
develop a truly level playing field where webcasters can compete with
satellite radio. The Internet Radio Equality Act is the last best hope
webcasters, artists, and listeners have to keep the music playing. I
know New Orleans will be glad to hear it!”

SaveNetRadio, together with WWOZ, the official radio station of Jazz
Fest 2007, is sponsoring the HOT 8 Jazz band in a live Internet concert
during the New Orleans festival on May 2nd. The coalition is also
educating Jazz Fest musicians about the possibility that Internet radio
– an important medium for all musicians, but independent musicians in
particular – will all but die on May 15 when the CRB royalty is
scheduled to take effect.

The bill would also reset the royalty rules for noncommercial radio such as NPR stations that offer Internet radio music.

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