"Live or Die" Internet Radio Dispute Goes Before Congress Tonight
Now the fate of pandora.com and other Internet radio stations may lie with Congress.
This evening the House is expected to consider a bill to extend the negotiations between Webcasters and the record labels and artists to whom they owe performance royalties.
Internet radio outfits, led by the popular pandora.com, argue that a ruling last year by the Copyright Royalty Board doubling the royalty they pay for each song played will doom their businesses.
For months, the Webcasters have been in negotiations with the group representing the record labels and artists, hoping for a better deal. They say those talks are nearing a resolution. But without the approval for more negotiations, any settlement that arises could not become law.
Whether the extension introduced by Rep. Jay Inslee (D- Wash.) will pass Congress is far from certain, however. The National Association of Broadcasters has expressed "concerns" about it, and is lobbying against its passage. The NAB represents rival traditional radio stations.
"It's a straight up effort by the NAB to kill Internet radio," said Tim Westergren, Pandora's founders. "This bill doesn't affect them in any way."
Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the NAB, said the group was "concerned" with the speed with which the bill has been taken up.
"NAB has concerns related to Congress attempting to fast-track a bill introduced less than 24 hours ago that could have serious implications for broadcasters, webcasters, and consumers of music," he said.
September 26, 2008; 5:38 PM ET
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