Congress assists webcasters, SoundExchange as they near deal on royalties

A deal to save Internet radio services like Pandora and Live365 seems imminent and Congress is poised to pass legislation to give both sides time to finalize an agreement.

Here is an excerpt from an Associated Press story:

The two sides have been negotiating new royalty rates following the federal Copyright Royalty Board’s ruling in March 2007 that dramatically increased the rates that Internet radio stations must pay artists and record labels. Internet radio stations say the new rates — which most but not all are paying — would effectively put them out of business.

After months of talks, Webcasters and SoundExchange have recently moved closer to a deal. But because Internet radio companies operate under a government license, any final agreement needs congressional authorization. And with Congress preparing to adjourn at least until after the elections — and possibly until next year — lawmakers probably will not be around to provide approval when an accord is reached.

The House passed legislation on Saturday that would allow webcasters and SoundExchange to continue working on a deal while Congress is out of session, and that any deals struck between the parties would be legally binding until Congress is able to provide final approval.

And here is the latest blog post from Pandora CEO and two-time Technology and the Arts guest Tim Westergren:

We’re thrilled to let everyone know that the House bill passed! Thanks to your incredible support we were able to overcome the NAB’s efforts to derail us. Phone calls rained into the congressional offices over the past 36 hours. Just amazing.

We’re not done. We still need to get the bill through the Senate, which looks like it will be voting on the bill on Monday.

So stay tuned. We want to make sure the Senators know how important it is for them support our resolution. We’ll be reaching out again to ask you for one more push.

Our deepest gratitude.

Tim (Founder)

For those of you interested, NAB is the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents the large terrestrial broadcasters like Clear Channel. Seeing a webcasting deal was close, the NAB launched a lobbying effort to kill the legislation (HR 7084) in order to eliminate some competition. But thanks to a grass-roots effort by fans of Internet radio, that effort was thwarted.