Senators give SoundExchange Labor Day Deadline for Deals

Barring “great progress” in negotiations
between webcasters and the recording industry by Labor Day, two prominent senators announced yesterday that they will take “expeditious steps” towards the passage of the Internet Radio Equality Act.

The Senate bill’s original sponsors, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR, pictured right) and Sam Brownback (R-KS, at left), expressed concern with a lack of negotiating progress between the parties, citing an offer extended by the NAB in June that has gone unanswered by SoundExchange, as well as webcasters’ difficulty in scheduling meetings with the record industry group.

“As Congress heads into its August recess, we are troubled by the lack of negotiating progress being reported.” reads yesterday afternoon’s news release.

Wyden and Brownback also chastised the recording industry for using the “unfounded” per-channel minimum fee as leverage to compel webcasters to adopt Digital Rights Management, portrayed as a measure to combat “stream-ripping.”

“Now we are hearing that the recording industry is attempting to use this aspect of the CRB decision to force webcasters to adopt recording restrictions far in excess of the controls that have governed broadcast content for decades,” they said. “While we strongly support a negotiated solution, we will not allow the minimum fee issue to be used to force an agreement that mandates DRM technology and fails to respect the established principles of fair use and consumer rights.”

Congress enters a recess August 6 and will reconvene on September 4, the deadline the Senators have given for progress in negotiations.

“The fact is online radio services do not have enough revenue to support what will amount to unprecedented royalties. The $500 per channel minimum fee alone will deliver an over $1 billion annual windfall to record companies, a windfall that is not justified by any business or equity considerations,” the senators commented. “We feel the Senate must take action, and we will make every effort move the Internet Radio Equality Act to the floor.”

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