Internet Webcasting Saved From Certain Doom

by Schuyler Erle

On November 14, the Senate approved final changes to HR5469, a.k.a. the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002, a bill which allows small webcasters -- such as my favorite, SomaFM -- to negotiate with the RIAA for a flat fee or a percentage of income or expenses in lieu of the crippling $.07 per song levied by the Library of Congress earlier this year. This compromise bill gives a little something to both sides: The independent webcasters get the chance to get back in the game, and the RIAA gets a couple thousand dollars per webcaster per year, and -- more importantly -- they retain their legal entitlement to royalty compensation for "Internet performance". I'm not sure how I feel about this precedent, but at least the Internet airwaves have been somewhat redemocratized, if such a word may be used.

Meanwhile, SomaFM is already back on the air, preparing for their "official" grand opening on the 30th. You can find information and links to news stories on their website. Secret Agent channel, here we come!