The House of Representatives on Monday rushed through a bill to let small Internet radio stations pay discounted royalties to record labels and artists, but its prospects in the Senate were clouded by hints of opposition from other broadcasters.
The bill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) would implement a deal hammered out by small Webcasters, record labels and artists' representatives after more than a week of intense negotiations. Instead of requiring them to pay about $92 per listener per year, the bill would let small Webcasters pay a percentage of their revenue or expenses, whichever were greater.
Several small Webcasters welcomed the legislation, although neither they nor the labels were declaring victory.
"It's obviously very difficult to negotiate when the option is going out of business," said Kevin Shively of Beethoven.com, an Internet broadcaster that specializes in classical music. "The rates are considerably higher than we had hoped."
Added David Landis of Ultimate-80s, a Los Angeles-based Webcaster, "It is expensive, but we did get what we, in a sense, needed to survive."