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Civil disobedience promised after net radio royalty bill falls

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The controversial HR.5469 bill died in the Senate tonight, after failing to reach the floor for a vote.

The bill was originally intended to grant 'casters a six month stay on performance royalties, but with seven minutes to go before the House voted last week, it was a replaced with an RIAA-negotiated settlement. That passed unanimously, but anger spread last week after many webcasters realized this did nothing for retrospective royalties owing since 1998, and would put many educational, and non profit webcasters out of business.

Even some of those involved in the breakaway team that struck the RIAA deal have since walked away from HR.5469, leaving a small number of casters advocating the increasingly forlorn measure.

One of those involved in the original negotiations, country musician and broadcaster Mike Hays, told us:-

"The Judiciary staff only had the picture from the RIAA and a very small number of webcasters for trying to save their businesses. I can't blame them for trying to save their businesses. But there were 5 or 6 webcasters there who could save their asses, and they went for it."

Hays walked out of the negotiations.

Sources told us that anger with the revised HR.5469 reached the offices of Senator Joe Lieberman, the former Vice Presidential candidate, and John Kerry (D.Mass). Neither office could confirm that the two influential senators were instrumental in stalling the much-reviled measure.

But webcasters appear to have two powerful allies when the Senate returns, when attention will focus on the Inslee proposal intended to provide broader relief for net radio.

Then there's a more immediate date of Sunday, when years' worth of retrospective royalties become due.

For Hays, the sky isn't falling just yet.

"A large number of webcasters are going to engage in civil disobedience," he told us.

"Don't panic. Do what you gotta do, and keep building your audience; let them [the RIAA] take the lead on this."

"Most people are going to say screw the RIAA, let them come find me."®

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