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"Live or Die" Internet Radio Dispute Goes Before Congress Tonight

Now the fate of 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, 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.

By Peter Whoriskey  |  September 26, 2008; 5:38 PM ET  | Category:  Peter Whoriskey
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

If you're a fan of Pandora, or any other internet radio, please call your congressional representative. They are working late, and over the weekend. Ask them to support HR7084. Insist that they stand up to the radio broadcasters and protect this valuable, innovative and popular new form of radio that's finally giving working musicians access to a wide audience.

You can locate your representative at the following URL:

Founder, Pandora

Posted by: Tim Westergren | September 26, 2008 10:03 PM

I find it absurd that we just had the biggest bank failure in the history of the United States and THIS is what Congress is working on (mind you they also just passed an RIAA supported bill for online piracy).

Dear Congress, do your job, this is NOT the priority. If you don't get your act together, most consumers won't have any cash to buy or listen to any of this content and then we'll have to listen to industry groups complain and belly ache even longer.

Posted by: John | September 27, 2008 12:31 AM

John - This is ONE thing they're working on. Why can't they multitask?

Posted by: Zach | September 27, 2008 3:24 PM

Of course NAB is lobbying to kill the chance for Internet Radio Stations to have life - as Traditional Radio wants to continue to monopolize the market and keep giving it's audiences and the public it's mundane top twenty chart of same old artists music and narrow choice of Genres and programs that it always has!

They should mind their own business and get out of this lobbying movement against Internet Radio!

If the NAB get their way, I will turn off my Terrestrial radio for good and work on getting any terrestrial radio stations that are using the internet to promote their main stream radio stations kicked off the internet!

Posted by: Cliff | September 27, 2008 6:52 PM

the change in washington was to keep big business out...oh well can't believe I vote for BO-dems....u lost my vote dems...

Posted by: I thought | September 27, 2008 9:57 PM

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