A sigh of relief was heard across the internet yesterday, as proposals which could have switched off web-based radio were rejected by Congress.
Proposals from the controversial three-person Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (Carp), appointed by the US Copyright Office, recommended that internet radio jockeys and webcasters pay royalties on transmissions.
The proposed fees, amounting to 14 cents per listener per song, came about as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
But such charges could have "killed" web-based radio, according to the Save Internet Radio campaign. "Carp's recommended royalty rates are currently more than 200 per cent of most webcasters' gross revenues," it said.
"Such fees are not required of terrestrial radio stations and, if the proposal had been passed, royalties would have been owed all the way back to 1998, immediately killing off most stations."
But a 'day of silence' protest held by the internet stations a few weeks ago seems to have paid off in turning up the volume on their plight.
Yesterday's ruling means that net radio is safe. For now.
The Librarian of Congress's final decision on the matter has been postponed until 20 June, so webcasters are not yet out of the woods.
Web radio fees could still be introduced at a lower level but, in an unlikely circumstance, they could also be raised.
Hilary Rosen, chairman and chief executive of the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), has maintained that the Carp proposals are not enough.
A comment on Congress's decision from Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, read: "The Librarian has rejected the arbitration panel's determination, but we do not know why or what decision the Librarian will ultimately make based on the evidence presented.
"Since both sides appealed the panel's determination, anything is possible. We look forward to the conclusion of this process on 20 June, and to the day when artists and labels finally get paid for the use of their music."
Although supporters of internet radio called the Librarian's move a "step in the right direction", campaigners are planning to step up their protests before the end of June decision.
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