Webcasting bill introduced in Congress


A webcasting bill, the "Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 (H.R. 7084)," was introduced in Congress on Thursday that would allow SoundExchange to reach a settlement on royalty rates with the Digital Media Association (DiMA) before mid-December (when Congress adjourns) with any webcaster, for the period of 2005 and up to 11 years.

SoundExchange and DiMA, which represents web radio stations such as AOL Radio and Pandora, have been at odds over the fees charged to stream music. Sources close to the talks say the introduction of the bill signals the two sides are close to cutting a deal. "They wouldn’t be seeking the government’s blessing unless they were close," reported CNet.

The two sides need the government’s OK to reach an agreement because they’re after a statutory license. Such a license gives Web radio stations the right to stream any copyright songs they want, but also requires them to pay a negotiated rate.

Pandora and other Webcasters fiercely object to a decision by the Copyright Royalty Board–a three-judge panel that sets rates for copyright statutory licenses–to double the current $.0008 price per stream by 2010.
The board also set a $500-a-year fee for each channel a webcaster broadcasts.

Earlier this week, DiMA and the recording industry agreed to a deal that called for interactive music and limited download sites to pay 10.5% of annual revenue as a royalty rate.