The U.S. Senate has passed the Webcaster Settlement Act, designed to allow Internet radio stations to negotiate reduced royalty rates for songs streamed over the Web, according to Digital Media Wire.
The Senate action Tuesday follows passage of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives over the weekend. The legislation will now be sent to the White House, where President Bush is expected to sign it. U.S Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., sponsor of the bill in House, said after House passage that the Webcaster Settlement Act will ensure the long-term viability of Internet radio.
"This is a truly historic moment for internet radio and its listeners," Inslee said in a statement after House passage. "There may now be a light at the end of the tunnel in the fight over internet radio royalties."
The bill permits a negotiated settlement between internet Webcasters and Sound Exchange, which collects royalties for musical performers, to replace the exorbitantly high royalty rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) in March 2007, according to Inslee.
Several Webcasters publicly stated that the fees were so high they would be forced out of business. The rate structure for 2008 is $.0014 per performance; that cost goes up in 2009 to $.0018 per performance and in 2010 to $.0019 per performance.