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Update: 'Net Radio Wins Reprieve

We wrote here March 8 about a March 2 decision of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board raising royalty rates for Webcasts by 30 percent. Many bloggers agreed with U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who said the decision could lead to the death of Internet radio. Now, Internet radio has won a reprieve of that death sentence.

According to Anne Broache at CNET Politics Blog, the Copyright Royalty Board's chief judge, James Scott Sledge, issued an order Tuesday setting the stage for a possible rehearing of the ruling. Sledge invited the various petitioners who had requested the rehearing to submit documents detailing their arguments by April 2. According to Broache's posting, those petitioners include groups representing college radio operators and small commercial Webcasters, as well as National Public Radio and Clear Channel Communications. Even SoundExchange, the nonprofit organization that collects the royalty payments and initially lobbied for the changes, filed a request for a rehearing.  Its general counsel, Michael Huppe, explained to Bloomberg News, "Nobody got everything they asked for." The board's order does not ensure a rehearing, notes a report at Digital Media Wire, but is a first step towards considering a rehearing.

NPR is leading the fight against the new royalty rates, Ars Technica reports. It has said that the new rates will force it to stop offering Web simulcasts. Ars Technica has details on NPR's filing with the Royalty Board:

"In NPR's filing, the organization argues that the decision is an abuse of discretion and 'unsupported by sufficient evidence.' NPR makes no attempt to be polite either, arguing that the judges did not consider fully -- 'or at all' -- the issues that have been brought forth regarding unreasonable cost concerns."

Absent a rehearing, NPR promises to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.


Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on March 22, 2007 at 05:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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