Folks who live in Los Angeles may be familiar with one of its great NPR stations, KCRW. As KCRW reports (emphasis in original):
The Internet Radio Equality Act (H.R. 2060), introduced by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL), would save many independent music webcasters from going out of business by nullifying the decision of the Copyright Royalty Board requiring webcasters to make large royalty payments.
The act provides reasonable royalties for artists and their labels by putting royalties paid by webcasters under the same system and standards as royalties paid by satellite radio services. This act has special provisions to protect public radio webcasters like KCRW and needs your support.
Or, as The SaveNetRadio Coalition puts it:
The future of Internet radio is in immediate danger. Royalty rates for webcasters have been drastically increased by a recent ruling and are due to go into effect on July 15 (retroactive to Jan 1, 2006!). If the increased rates remain unchanged, the majority of webcasters will go bankrupt and silent on this date. Internet radio needs your help!
Here is the text of the bill, which has bipartisan support.
Currently, 52 House members are cosponsoring the bill, but it needs more help. You can find a link to a pdf of the current cosponsors on this page.
To find your congressperson's office number, enter your zip code on this page or call (202) 225-1904 for more information.
As fans of NPR and PBS know, the folks who work there are not making big bucks. There's a lot of love there. KCRW is a radio station, but its website allows visitors to listen to a live stream, a music stream or a news stream. I listen to the radio station, the web stream or both every day. Other webcasters surely provide similar opportunities.
KCRW specifically is unusual for NPR stations in that it plays a great deal of alternative rock, indie bands and world music. I've been a KCRW subscriber since I moved to L.A. a few years ago, I attended their recent benefit concert this April, and I've lost track of how many bands I've been introduced to and how many CDs I've bought due to the station. KCRW was the first U.S. station to play Norah Jones and various acts that have gotten quite big, but it's an unflagging promoter of the local music scene and has been invaluable for promoting many smaller (or previously small) bands, including several whose members I know or have met. (Hell, those TV music programmers essentially just listen to KCRW and rip off the stuff they think will go well under a teary montage on The O.C. or Grey's Anatomy, and I could write a whole other piece on that, but some of the music is quite good and a single play like that can make a big difference for a small band.) Unlike huge corporations such as Clear Channel, KCRW and most webcasters don't have dictated playlists. My main point is that that musicians do get royalties under this act, as they should, but KCRW and other webcasters provide important diversity, promote creativity and help many musicians immensely.
A link kit for this cause can be found here.
Please contact your congressperson to urge them to act (or to say thank you) and Save Net Radio!