As covered extensively here yesterday, HR 5469 provides for a new royalty schedule for “small” webcasters based upon a percentage of revenues rather than on a per song basis. As it now reads, this would not apply to college stations:
- Officials for college radio stations that play music online say they will not benefit from a bill approved by the House of Representatives on Monday that reduced copyright royalties that small Webcasters must pay.
The legislation would codify a settlement reached Monday among Webcasters, musical artists, and the recording industry to revise a controversial set of royalty rates established earlier this year.
But most college radio stations don’t fit the legal term for “small business” because they are part of a college or university, says Joel Willer, general manager of the University of Louisiana at Monroe radio station, KXUL. He says college stations were not allowed to participate in negotiations to set the new rates.
So college stations will probably have to pay the higher royalty fees that were created as a result of a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Under those rates, which were set in June, the average college station offering Webcasts — a licensed noncommercial college station that simultaneously plays its over-the-air broadcasts online — would pay two-hundredths of a cent per listener per song for every song it plays.
Radio stations that play music online would have to pay a minimum of $500 a year if their audience is small. If more people connected to the Webcast, the royalty fees could run to thousands of dollars.
It strikes me as absurd that congress wouldn’t extend to school-based noncommercial stations the same benefits it gives to small commercials.