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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Stations wrestle with royalties

By Burt Lum

The Library of Congress, after many months of deliberation, has made a ruling on royalty payments for Internet broadcasts. Now, the future of Webcasting music is in flux.

These actions are the result of an act passed by Congress in 1998 called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Library of Congress ruling sets forth the rates that commercial, noncommercial, non-Corporation of Public Broadcasting and Internet-only radio stations must pay starting in September. This royalty ruling ruling is retroactive to October 1998.

I would venture to say that radio stations, particularly the Internet-only stations, are now giving some serious thought to the efficacy of Webcasting over the Internet. You may read the ruling at www.copyright.gov/carp/webcasting_rates_final.html.

Commercial radio stations that simulcast their programming over the Internet are also wrestling with this ruling. Unfortunately, however, the hardest hit are the noncommercial stations, particularly ones that are college, community based and independent Internet-only webcasters.

It all boils down to money, and whether stations can even afford the time, resources and dollars to do this.

As a fan of college radio, I can empathize with this situation. Three stations that I listen to online are KTUH (University of Hawai'i: ktuh.org), KALX (University of California-Berkeley: kalx.berkeley .edu) and KZSU (Stanford: kzsu.stanford.edu). I'm sure you have your favorites. For whatever reason we enjoy listening to college radio, whether it's the programming or the connection to our old stomping ground, can you imagine how difficult it would be for these organizations to administer these requirements? How would you track a royalty payment for a turn-tablist show or one that played J-pop imports?

Go to www.ruf.rice.edu/~willr/cb/sos/ to find out more about how you can lend your voice. There is a letter campaign taking place to inform your congressional team. Sample letters and how to contact your reps make it easy to voice your concern. Let's Save Our Streams! ;-)

Burt Lum is one click away at burt@brouhaha.net.