Internet radio royalty bill moves forward

Proposal passes House, moves to Senate

Internet radio stations can extend their negotiations with labels and artists over performance royalties following a key vote in the House of Representatives.

The legislation, H.R. 7084, was passed on Sept. 27 and now moves to the Senate.

The legislation authorizes collecting society SoundExchange to negotiate new royalty agreements on behalf of copyright owners and performers for Internet radio through Feb. 15, 2009.

The Digital Media Association (DiMA), SoundExchange, National Public Radio (NPR) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) welcomed the vote.

"Everyone is grateful to the sponsors of the bill and to Chairman Berman for getting this through the House last night," said SoundExchange executive director John Simson in a statement. "This bill favors all webcasters and simulcasters - large and small. It paves the way for SoundExchange to use the coming months to pursue helpful solutions that allow all services to focus on business development. And, although there are no agreements yet, I am hopeful."

The modification to existing legislation was introduced because Congress will be out of session as discussions between both sides continue. Negotiations are set to resume when the bill is enacted.

"This legislation benefits all music webcasters and excludes none," added Michael Riksen, NPR VP of policy and representation in a statement. "Passage will facilitate closure of an agreement to enable all public radio stations to continue their public service through the webcasting of music."

The bill does not affect sound recording performance rights or any underlying copyright law.

Personalized Internet radio service Pandora had said it could shut down as a result of the new licensing fees due SoundExchange, under the recent Copyright Royalty Board licensing system.