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US judges reject net radio appeal

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Three hanging judges looks set to set to throw a noose around internet radio in the United States.

The Library of Congress' Copyright Royalty Board yesterday rejected an appeal by webcasters to review new rates for commercial webcasting. The Board also rejected a request to postpone the May 15 deadline for the introduction of the new royalty schedule.

Steep increases to the rate, last set in 2003, may force many webcasters to move or shut down their streams. Webcasters already pay publishing royalties to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. A coalition of webcasters ranging from small independents, to NPR and Yahoo!, requested that the rates be reduced. Other motions were submitted by the Digital Media Association (DiMA), and college broadcasters.

Monday saw the webcasters create a new group, The SaveNetRadio Coalition, to fight the proposals.

The CRB argued that no new evidence had been introduced by the motion to re-hear the case.

"The motions do not present the type of exceptional case that would warrant a rehearing or reconsideration," the Judges concluded.

The Judges, however, clarified two issues. They permitted the ATH measure, or Aggregate Tuning Hour, to be included in the new schedules, as well as the per-song royalty tariff. Most stations used ATH.

The Recording Industry Ass. of America, which has fought a successful campaign to hike the rates, welcomed the decision.®

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