Capping two years of negotiations, several “pureplay” webcasters struck a revenue sharing agreement with SoundExchange on Tuesday that observers say will ensure the survival of Internet radio broadcasters that had been threatened with a potentially crippling increase in royalty fees set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). The pact was signed by three webcasters that broadcast exclusively through the Internet—AccuRadio, radioIO and Digitally Imported—although Pandora Media and other Internet radio firms are also expected to adopt the agreement as well. In accordance with legislation passed by Congress, the agreement will also be binding on all copyright holders, including those not associated with SoundExchange, a non-profit organization that collects royalties from digital radio service providers on behalf of copyright holders. Under the pact, large commercial webcasters would pay copyright owners up to 25% of their revenues or a “per-song, per listener” fee that is substantially below CRB rates that webcasters once claimed would put them out of business by consuming upwards of 70% of annual revenues. Small webcasters would have the option of paying a percentage of revenues or a percentage of expenses. Predicting that the deal will give webcasters the opportunity to “flesh out various business models,” SoundExchange executive director praised the agreement as one that enables copyright holders to “share in the success their recordings generate.” Pandora founder Tim Westergren proclaimed, “we are relieved, happy and super excited about the resolution because it means we now have long term security.”
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Webcasters, SoundExchange reach royalty resolution
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