Senators give SoundExchange a deadline

Internet RadioWith the July 15th deadline for the new internet radio royalty rates come and gone, SoundExchange and the webcasters are still trying to reach some kind of settlement. At least the webcasters are trying.

Broadcasters report that their June 6 offer to SoundExchange has yet to warrant a response, and webcasters report that negotiating meetings with SoundExchange are proving difficult to schedule.

Now Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) have given the two parties a deadline. They say an agreement must be made, or they will take action in the Senate.

If great progress toward a fair solution for webcasters is not made by Congress’s return to Washington after Labor Day, then we plan to take expeditious steps toward passage of the Internet Radio Equality Act. We feel the Senate must take action, and we will make every effort move the Internet Radio Equality Act to the floor.

The bill doesn’t have a lot of support in the Senate at this time, but if a concerted effort was made to gather that support, it could be passed. The House version of the same bill currently has a great deal more support.

What negotiations have taken place, have recently seen SoundExchange put forth an offer for a reduction in royalties on the condition that webcasters get involved in DRM (digital rights management) by attempting to prevent listeners from recording their streams. In response to that, the two Senators have issued the following statement.

While we strongly support a negotiated solution, we will not allow the minimum fee issue to be used to force an agreement that mandates DRM technology and fails to respect the established principles of fair use and consumer rights.

It seems SoundExchange has a month to learn to play nice with internet radio, or Congress will be making the rules.