Today, the House Judiciary Committee discussed the new Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009 (H. R. 2344). The new bill, which passed committee, would give SoundExchange and webcasters 30 days to negotiate a royalty rate.
The previous bill, the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008, gave SoundExchange and webcasters until February 15, 2009 to hammer out a royalty deal.
However, agreements were not reached with some webcasters by that date, including “pureplay” webcasters, small commercial webcasters, and religious broadcasters. The agreement goes to the House floor a vote.
Also discussed was the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848), which also passed committee after being altered by a “Manager’s Amendment” to lower the annual fees for small radio broadcasters.
Over 300 webcasters signed on to a letter sent to Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), asking him to extend the newly-adopted Performance Rights Act manager’s amendment to small webcasters.
The letter points out the discrepancy between proposed royalty fees to broadcast radio stations and those charged to Internet radio webcaster. Under Conyers’ amendment, broadcasters making less than $1.25 million annually would pay $5,000 annually in royalties.
By comparison, the webcasters’ letter estimates, webcasters earning $1.25 million would pay $150,000 in royalties. Similarly, broadcasters earning less than $100,000 would pay $500, while webcasters earning the same amount would pay pay $10,000 in royalties.
The letter asks, “Should Congress allow small broadcasters to pay reasonable royalties but require small Internet radio webcasters to pay royalties that are 20, 30 and 40 times higher? …Please amend the Performance Rights Act to extend small broadcaster protections to small webcasters. Small webcasters are the smallest of small, but our programming is the most innovative and our playlists the most diverse.”
Source: Kurt Hanson’s RAIN Newsletter