Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Internet Radio Bill Passes the Senate

I wrote about the Webcasting Settlement Act of 2008 earlier, after it passed a vote in the House of Representatives. On Tuesday, it passed through the Senate as well, and now it is on to the President, who is expected to sign it.

H.R. 7084 would give webcasters relief from the Congressionally-mandated royalty rate which was deemed too high to allow Internet radio to survive. The bill would require that Congress must honor any royalty rate agreement reached between online radio stations and copyright holders.

Last Friday, it appeared the bill was headed to defeat, and Pandora pulled out the big guns --- its users --- in an attempt to help the bill pass. In the end, it was not just listener support, but also a Saturday night meeting between Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), who had been opposing the bill, and some lobbying by NPR that helped the bill pass the House.

In a post on Pandora's blog, Tim Westergren, Pandora founder said:
Thanks to everyone for your incredible support over the past few days. It was just extraordinary. We had some terrific allies on the Hill; a hearty thanks to our sponsors on the House side - Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA), and Donald Manzullo (R-IL), and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) who shepherded the bill through the Senate. And a special thanks to Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) for his key role as Chairman of the IP Subcommittee.

Behind all the activity within the halls of congress was the tireless advocacy by you, our listeners. None of this would have been possible without your overwhelming public support. Your voice was a constant reminder to everyone involved in this process about the importance of internet radio to music lovers and musicians alike. Your level of involvement was unprecedented. We are eternally grateful.
It's important to note that the bill just give Internet radio time to negotiate with the music industry; it doesn't guarantee an agreement. Now comes the hard part. They have until February 15th to reach a deal.

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