You may use this sample letter as a starting point in writing to your Senator and/or Congress person about the current webcasting crisis.
Dear Senator (or Congress Person) Name Here,
On December 24, 2015, the Copyright Royalty Board revised their determination for 2016-2020 webcasting rates (“Web IV”) by removing the categories of Microcaster, Small Webcaster, and Small Broadcaster. This was done behind closed doors and over the Christmas holiday.
Small Webcaster Rates were previously enacted by Congress in “The Small Webcaster’s Settlement Act of 2002” and again in the “Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009.” The 2009 act automatically sunset at the end of 2015. The Small Webcaster Rates had allowed mid and small-sized broadcasters, those with under $1.25M in revenue and under 5 million annual listener hours to pay a percentage of revenue rather than a per performance fee.
These Small Webcaster rates promoted the growth of thousands of independent small business Internet radio stations, and promoted new innovations in programming and streaming technology. As these small stations grew into larger webcasters they could then move to the higher per performance fee rates. This was a fair rate and amounted to a win-win situation for broadcasters both large and small.
Now these small US stations who have paid their fair share of fees are being forced to abide by the high per-performance fees being paid by billion dollar broadcasters (such as iHeart Media and Pandora) or go out of business. The new fees are tantamount to a 1,000%-2000% increase for small broadcasters, a rate increase that cannot be sustained by a small business. The CRB’s current rates are anti-comptitive. Furthermore, overseas broadcasters continue to operate and innovate under far more favorable royalty rates.
I am writing to you to register my opposition to the decision of The Copyright Royalty Board to not include a provision such as the “Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009” which allows for affordable royalty rates for smaller broadcasters and promotes the future of innovation in radio in the United States. I ask that a provision similar to the Settlement Act of 2009 be enacted by Congress to prevent monopolization of this market and to protect the future of radio innovation in the United States.