Well, extended anyway:
- The House of Representatives could vote next week to delay royalty payments for Internet radio broadcasts, giving a new lease on life to beleaguered “Webcasters” who say they would otherwise be forced offline.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner introduced a bill late Thursday that would push back an October payment deadline for six months, giving a federal appeals court a chance to rule on the issue.
The House will likely vote on the extension next week, a committee spokesman said, bypassing the normal legislative process and offering hope that the measure could become law before the Oct. 20 deadline.
The measure would allow Webcasters, which stream radio-style programs over the Internet, more time to work out a settlement with the musicians and record companies whose songs they use.
The two sides have for years been unable to agree on a royalty rate, prompting the Library of Congress to set a rate of 0.07 cents per listener per song in June that would apply retroactively to 1998.
Webcasters have said that the rate is too high and would force them out of business, while musicians and recording companies have said the rate is too low.
Both sides appealed the decision to a D.C. federal court in August, and have recently been holding discussions of their own.
The head of a trade group that represents Webcasters welcomed the bill.
“It’s always helpful to have the chairman of the Judiciary Committee offer a stay of execution to hundreds of small businesses,” said Jon Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association.
Potter noted that the measure has considerable support in the Senate as well.
A recording industry spokesman was less enthusiastic about the bill.
“This is a surprising development, considering how productive our discussions with the Webcasters have been,” said a spokesman with the Recording Industry Association of America.
Maybe it’s time to start webcasting here – what do you think?