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July 20, 2007

Internet Radio Relief Held Up Over DRM

As last we heard, Internet radio was about to be crushed by stifling royalty rates that would wipe out small broadcasters and force large ones to rethink their strategy.  SoundExchange offered an olive branch at the last minute, postponing the new rates for more talks.  The discussions centered around more reasonable rates and caps on per channel fees.  The snag that cropped up is everybody's favorite bugaboo, DRM.  SoundExchange would give more favorable rates to broadcasters in exchange for implementing anti-streamripping technologies. 

The Digital Media Association, representing broadcasters, read the offer as something akin to looking into the feasibility of such technology.  SoundExchange shot back that, no, when they meant implementing DRM, they meant implementing DRM and nothing less.  The acrimony in the negotiations is in the press and no real breakthrough has surfaced.

This fight is not unique to U.S. broadcasters.  The Guardian Unlimited is reporting on the same fight being waged in the United Kingdom.  The UK Copyright Tribunal issued a similar ruling mandating higher rates and the fight over there is no less harsh as to how this is going to come out.  One prediction:  those who can move their servers out of the jurisdiction probably will.  Welcome to the Cayman Islands.  Another is that consumers faced with the restrictions imposed on the content simply will not care and go to other sources where they have more freedom.  One thing is for sure:  CD sales will continue to decline, and DRM on a radio stream is not going to stop that from happening.

Stories are in TopTechNews, the Guardian Unlimited, the Seattle Times, and the Boston Globe.

July 20, 2007 | Permalink


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