If I hadn’t told you, you might never have known, but today is a day of silence for most of the nation’s web-radio stations. The miniscule broadcasters are trying to raise awareness of a rather one sided ruling by the Copyright Board –a three judge panel appointed by Congress- which drastically raised the royalty rates paid by web-casters.

Rusty Hodge of SomaFMWeb said, “For us, the royalty rates went from $20,000 to $600,000 per year.”

To make matters worse, the March ruling is retroactive to 2006 so little radio stations like WKSU Owl Radio, the college radio station for Kennesaw State University, will be required to pay the increased licensing rates all the way back.

Ed Bonza, the Kennesaw State University Assistant of Student Life said, “OWL Radio is joining with Live365 and thousands of Internet radio stations in a Day of Silence to protest fees set to go into effect less than 20 days from today. KSU Students and OWL Radio listeners may be the only ones standing between today’s one day of silence and the permanent silence of KSU’s OWL Radio.”

Bonza, who oversees all student media at the 3rd largest state school in Georgia, indicated that the increased fees could very well be the end of Kennesaw’s college radio program which just opened its doors in the past few months.

The frustration was clear in Bonza’s voice when he summed up the new ruling as, “A David & Goliath situation if there ever was one,” because the rates for Web-casting are now set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). This board, along with the RIAA and SoundExchange (representing labels and supposedly, the artists too) are on one side of the issue, with OWL Radio and thousands of independent Internet radio stations on the other.

I don’t think anyone is saying that artists shouldn’t be paid for their work, but small, fledgling stations trying to break into the market and college stations whose primary focus is training and experience should get some kind of scale reduction, shouldn’t they? We foster competition in the US, right?

If you would like to help, please check on a bill called the “Internet Radio Equality Act” which has already been introduced in both the Senate (S. 1353) and House of Representatives (H.R. 2060) to fix the problem. If you agree, you can contact your legislators and let them know you expect to see their votes cast in support of internet radio.

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