Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

The last broadcast

A month ago, I wrote about how a decision by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Royalty Board was threatening to wipe out Internet radio. In the five weeks since, things have only gotten worse. After losing an April 17 appeal to the board, starting May 15, Web broadcasters will immediately have to pay 0.08 cents in royalties for every song they played in 2006, then 0.11 cents for every song in 2007, followed by annual hikes up to 0.19 cents per song by 2010 – this will raise their operating costs by thousands and thousands of dollars, immediately bankrupting many stations. Furthermore, broadcasters will have to pay an extra $500 for every channel they have, and even non-profit stations such as National Public Radio will face higher costs. \nI suspect many readers do not understand the stakes in this situation – you might think this doesn’t affect you. So, here’s what I want you to do: \nGo turn on a regular FM radio. Dial the tuner around and see if you can find anything you like. How’d you fare? Excepting WIUX and the various NPR stations – I certainly hope you like country, top 40 or oldies, because that’s what you’re getting (oh, and lots of ads). \nNow, get online – go to RadioTower.com. Check out the 1,400 free stations. Still not enough selection? Go to Live365.com. I’m not quite sure how many free stations they host, but a search for “indie rock” yields 234 alone, and the site claims that a monthly fee gets you access to more than 10,000. Also, note how you can start your own online station. Or try out the free channels on AccuRadio.com; or Pandora.com, which checks bands you like against its database and introduces you to new bands based on your preferences. Or simply open your copy of iTunes, click on “radio” and find something there that strikes your fancy. \nThere’s a point to all this. In an April 15 London Observer column, the writer remarked upon the high quality and variety of American Internet radio compared to that available from Britain, noting, correctly, that it’s because so much of our terrestrial radio sucks. It’s this quality and variety that’s going to be flushed away if the CRB’s decision goes unchallenged. \nSee, at the moment we consumers are losing out to two groups that do not understand how technology is changing American culture, and probably never will: the federal government and major media companies. As the latter group scrambles to squeeze every last ounce of short-term profit out of its product (regardless of its longer-term interests), the former enforces outdated copyright rules and has its belly scratched by lobbyists. If we’re going to put a stop to this, the public has to show the government that our culture belongs to us and not simply to “big media.”\nRight now, the best bet to change things is an appeal to your congressional representatives. Go to http://savenetradio.org to let them know how you feel.

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe