HOT & UPDATE 2016
I am writing with
regard to the announcement by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) of the
rates and schedules for internet music streaming (and other forms of
broadcasting) this past Wednesday - http://www.loc.gov/crb/
While there are many matters dealt with in this determination, I am
concerned with the fact that there is no provision for small commercial
webcasters. Rather, the entire review process and result appears to
consider only the big internet companies - iTunes, Pandora, iHeart, etc.,
and the big music companies with megastar performers. On both sides of the
equation, the smaller players - broadcasters and musical artists alike -
have been ignored and disenfranchised.
The present royalty schedules for the internet (implement by Sound
Exchange based on prior CRB determinations) provide for a class of license
called "Small Commercial Webcaster." As the announcement referenced above
makes no mention of such a provision, we conclude that Sound Exchange will
not provide it. Without the SCW license, the cost of doing what small
webcasters now do will jump dramatically - not just by fractions, but 5,
10, 50 times or more. Small webcasters have no chance of generating a
revenue stream to cover that and so will be unable to operate. They will
have to shut down.
Note that the new rules will go into effect on January 1, 2016 - less that
two weeks from now - even though they have just been announced.
Also note that small webcasters have been paying royalties. Their license
includes the collection of royalties which are disbursed to artists, just
as with other classes of license. We completely agree that artists should
be compensated for use of their work.
Small webcasters operate with small budgets and provide a wealth of
content that cannot be found on the big commercial services. This includes
the many varieties of music beyond the pop hits that are the mainstay of
the big services - folk, jazz, classical, many form of alternative rock,
etc. Hence, these broadcasters provide exposure for new artists and
artists in less popular styles that would never be heard on the big
services or even on FM radio.
If the small webcasters are forced to shut down, the musical artists that
benefit from them - both in terms of exposure and actual royalties - will
lost those benefits.
In other words, the effect of the new determination will be to penalize
and disenfranchise broadcasters and artists alike.
The CRB decision seems especially callous because, in 2009, the very same
issue was raised in connection with the determination at that time, and
Congress intervened with the result that provision for small webcasters
was restored. Reports say that small webcasters (and artists) were not
represented in the CRB proceedings, suggesting that the process itself is
flawed and available only to the rich and powerful. Because we didn't have
the budget to hire lawyers to file briefs, we don't exist in the CRB view.
In any event, small webcasters are facing the possibility of shutdown in
less than two weeks. We can only hope that somehow, through a court filing
or political pressure, the effective date of the new schedules can be
delayed for enough time that these deficiencies can be reviewed and
possibility corrected. Without such delay, small broadcasters will suffer
irreparable harm. Shutdown of broadcasts and loss of audience cannot
quickly be reversed at some later time.
I am a small webcaster and presently program 9 stations (streams),
including a contemporary folk music station. Hundreds of artists have sent
me their CD releases and have frequently thanked me for the airplay. We
would appreciate anything you may be able to do to help prevent our
partnership from being excluded from the internet.
Yours very truly, John van Schyndel
Our Promise, we
will back 4u, for Artists and the Worldwide Listeners