Fight CARP
August 12, 2002
College Webcasting Getting Starved Out

This is all so sad and so unnecessary.

See the article in the Chronicle of Higher Eduacation:
Radio Silence: Fees Force College Stations to Stop Webcasting.

The fees are the result of a provision in the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 that states that
the recording industry and artists should be
compensated for music played over the Internet.
After months of tense negotiations and arbitration
run by the U.S. Copyright Office, Mr. Billington
decided in June what fees Webcasters will pay to
the record industry. The average college station
offering Webcasts -- a licensed noncommercial
college station that simultaneously plays its
over-the-air broadcasts online -- would pay
two-hundredths of a cent per listener per song
for every song it plays.

text of entire article in case the link goes bad:

From the issue dated August 16, 2002

Radio Silence
Fees force college stations to stop Webcasting


Almost all American college radio stations have listeners who call in to make

Paying for Webcasts

Who's Out and Who's In

Colloquy Live: Join a live, online discussion with Will Robedee, vice chairman of Collegiate Broadcasters Inc. and general manager of KTRU-FM, Rice University's radio station, about new fees for Webcasting by college radio stations, on Thursday, August 15, at 1 p.m., U.S. Eastern time.

song requests. But few have people calling in from Israel.

At the University of Akron, however, WZIP-FM reached a worldwide audience by transmitting its music over the Internet at the same time it broadcast a traditional radio signal locally. At its peak, the station's Webcasts of hip-hop and dance music attracted up to 300 online listeners an hour in places as distant as the Middle East and Australia. Song requests from Jerusalem and Sydney were common.

But in March, WZIP ended its Webcasts. Station officials estimated that WZIP would have to pay more than $10,000 a year under a new royalty-fee plan that was then being considered by James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress. Mr. Billington oversees the U.S. Copyright Office.

"It absolutely broke our hearts to pull the plug," says Thomas G. Beck, general manager of the station.

In anticipation of the fees, which were finally announced earlier this summer, dozens of college radio stations stopped transmitting music over the Internet. They joined hundreds of commercial and noncommercial stations that shut down their Webcasts to avoid both racking up hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees and meeting expensive new record-keeping requirements.

The fees are the result of a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 that states that the recording industry and artists should be compensated for music played over the Internet. After months of tense negotiations and arbitration run by the U.S. Copyright Office, Mr. Billington decided in June what fees Webcasters will pay to the record industry. The average college station offering Webcasts -- a licensed noncommercial college station that simultaneously plays its over-the-air broadcasts online -- would pay two-hundredths of a cent per listener per song for every song it plays.

The rates are scheduled to be renewed every two years. The next round of negotiations could begin as early as this fall.

'A Tremendous Amount'

Although the rates are discussed in hundredths of a penny, Mr. Beck says multiplying them by hundreds of thousands of songs played, and by hundreds of listeners, could mean thousands of dollars in fees for stations. "It looks like nothing, but it adds up to a tremendous amount," he says.

So far, few college radio stations have attracted hundreds of online listeners -- most Webcasts pull in an audience of a couple dozen at most. But officials at college stations say the new fees discourage success. If a Webcast becomes too popular, the station soon wouldn't be able to afford to stay in business.

Many radio stations, both Webcasting and traditional, argue that the fees are unreasonably high. They say a flat rate of about $200 per year would be fair for all parties.

Broadcasters say they are even more afraid of a proposal, made by an arbitration panel from the Copyright Office, to require Webcasters to track detailed information about every song they play.

Under that proposal, radio and online stations would have to report each song's title, the artist or group that performed it, the album title, the record label, the catalog number, the International Standard Recording Code (which identifies each track of a compact disk), and the date and time of transmission. For each song, the station also has to keep track of how many listeners were online at the time the song was playing.

Software to collect that sort of information isn't on the market, station officials say. Even if it were, they add, collecting the information would be prohibitively expensive.

Mr. Billington has yet to rule on the panel's record-keeping recommendation, and Copyright Office officials say it may be weeks before he does.

Some of the Webcasters that shut down, like one at the University of California at Los Angeles, were online only. Other stations have continued to play music online, gambling that the courts or Congress will intervene to make the fees and record-keeping rules more radio-friendly. But the recording industry has argued that the fees are already too low and that they don't adequately compensate the companies that produce the music people want to hear.

One group of college radio stations has filed a lawsuit in an appeals court, asserting that smaller stations were unable to participate in the negotiations that helped determine the fees.

And some members of Congress have introduced legislation that might help lower the rates that smaller stations would have to pay to play music online.

In the meantime, students and faculty advisers at college stations are pulling out their calculators to tally what it would cost to continue making Webcasts under the new fees and how much they owe for Webcasting over the past four years.

A Unique Requirement

The fees and proposed record-keeping requirements are unique to online transmissions. Radio stations don't pay fees to the record industry for traditional broadcasts -- the assumption is that the record companies benefit from publicity that leads listeners to buy CD's. But the stations do pay a flat rate, usually around $500 a year, to the songwriters through organizations that support composers, authors, and publishers.

Will Robedee, vice chairman of Collegiate Broadcasters Inc., a trade group for campus radio stations, says broadcasters shouldn't have to pay the record industry and the performers because the record labels depend on radio to drum up sales.

He says the fees for Webcasting are especially far out of line. "It's higher than the broadcast fees for a lower quality and a smaller audience," says Mr. Robedee, who is also general manager of Rice University's radio station, KTRU-FM. He is leading a lobbying effort to get Congress to change the fees and other requirements in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Another college radio station, San Jose State University's KSJS-FM, plays a mix of music that's not usually heard on commercial stations, including classic jazz, death metal, and techno. But KSJS shut down its Webcast of music in January to avoid having to pay fees and keep intricate records.

"As soon as I saw the suggested rates, I thought, 'I don't even want to play this game anymore,'" says Nick Martinez, general manager at the station. "It's not worth it."

The station's traditional broadcasts reach an audience of about 25,000 a week.

The Webcasts attracted only a handful of listeners. "It wasn't any more than 10 to 15 listeners an hour," Mr. Martinez says. "And 99 times out of 100, it was the parents of the DJ's wanting to listen to their son or daughter."

But Amanda Collins, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America, says stations could one day make lots of money from playing music online. "Webcasting is in its earliest stage of development," she says. "The fact that they're using our members' works to create a business, that means our members should be compensated."

Ms. Collins says the recording industry is willing to continue negotiating with college stations to reach a conclusion that satisfies both sides. "We're hearing the concerns that the college radio stations are raising, and we're prepared to work with them," she says.

Keeping Track of Listeners

For stations with only a few online listeners, as well as for stations with larger numbers, the proposed record-keeping requirements are at least as daunting as the fees, says Mr. Beck, of the University of Ak-ron. First the station would have to create a database of all the required information about each piece of music. Then it would have to determine how many people are listening to the Webcasts as the songs are playing.

He says no software is available that can handle all of that, meaning his staff members would have to do the work. "That is damn near an impossibility," Mr. Beck says. "We're an all-volunteer staff."

Some stations decided early on to stay out of the Webcasting business, sensing that the copyright law's provisions foretold burdensome rules. A community radio station operated by the University of Virginia, WTJU-FM, considered transmitting its broadcasts online, but decided against it. "We never Webcast, but a lot of it had to do with the financial situation," says Chuck Taylor, general manager of the station. "As a small station, we really could not afford to take that risk."

The station is a member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which negotiated its own fee rate with the recording industry and which covers the Webcasting fees for its member stations. The rate is kept confidential.

But the record-keeping requirements would have been too expensive for the station. Like many radio stations, WTJU currently keeps records the old-fashioned way -- DJ's scribble the names of songs and artists into a logbook.

The books don't include even half the information that's proposed for the new record-keeping requirements, and all of that information would have to be converted to digital form. It would take a full-time employee to handle the work, Mr. Taylor says.

Besides the fees and the record-keeping, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act restricts the number of tracks from one CD or by one artist that can be broadcast online. Webcasters cannot play more than two songs consecutively from one CD, or more than three songs consecutively from a boxed set. Nor can they play more than three songs from one disk or more than four songs from a boxed set within a three-hour period.

That hurts many college radio stations, which often offer a different type of programming than commercial stations.

For example, a college station might broadcast a special on Miles Davis, but the program would be prohibited online if it involved playing too many songs from a single album.

"If you've listened to community or college radio, that's pretty much what we do," Mr. Taylor says. Now Webcasters' options are running out. The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, a trade group representing about 800 college stations, and the Harvard Radio Broadcasting Company filed a lawsuit in July against the librarian of Congress in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The suit asks that Mr. Billington's decision on fees be thrown out.

Going to Court

The stations argue that the fees are especially detrimental to smaller stations. They also say that small stations were left out of the arbitration proceedings because the cost of participating was so high. Under U.S. Copyright Office rules, members of copyright-arbitration panels pick up the cost of the process -- which in this instance meant that each panel member paid about $300,000 to participate, an amount that the stations say skewed the panel's membership in favor of the record industry and large broadcasters.

Whether Congress will take any action remains to be seen. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Webcasting in May. A Senate staff member says the committee may meet again now that the fees have been decided.

Some college-station managers are looking for help from a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in July. The bill's sponsors are Rep. Jay Inslee, a Washington Democrat, Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, and George R. Nethercutt Jr., a Washington Republican.

As written, the legislation would exempt small businesses from having to pay the royalty fees until the next round of negotiations with the Copyright Office. It would also exempt small businesses from having to pay arbitration costs for future proceedings with the office. Mr. Robedee, of the Collegiate Broadcasters Inc., says he'll ask the lawmakers to amend the bill to include colleges in the exemptions.

Joel Willer, general manager of KXUL-FM, the radio station at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, is working with Mr. Robedee to lobby Congress for changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Mr. Willer, whose station has continued its Webcasts (, says is difficult to gauge whether members of Congress are merely sympathetic to their needs or if they will actually take action.

"They nod politely," he says. "But if they're really going to do something, it's difficult to get that sense."

Mr. Martinez, of the San Jose State radio station, says he is hopeful that the regulations will be changed so his station can resume Webcasting.

"It's college radio," Mr. Martinez says. "Have fun, play music, and leave it at that."


The following are the Webcasting fees and related rules set by James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress:

* Noncommercial radio stations -- including college stations -- that have simultaneous Internet transmissions must pay two-hundredths of a cent per listener per song for every song they play. Commercial radio stations that offer simultaneous Internet transmission will pay seven-hundredths of a cent per song for each online listener.

* Noncommercial stations that broadcast exclusively online must pay seven-hundredths of a cent per song per listener. Noncommercial radio stations that play music online from an archived broadcast -- permitting listeners to hear music on demand instead of what's playing live -- must pay two-hundredths of a cent per listener per song.

* All radio stations that play music online will be required to pay a minimum fee of $500 per year. All of the fees, which begin on September 1, are retroactive to October 1998, when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act went into effect. The first payments are due October 20.

* To determine how much the retroactive fees will be, Webcasters will estimate the number of listeners they had during the past four years. To calculate the fees, the number of listeners is multiplied by 12 songs an hour for traditional radio stations, and by 15 songs an hour for Internet-only stations.

* The income from the fees will be split three ways: Half goes to the record label, 45 percent goes to the featured artist, and 5 percent goes to non-featured artists.

Here are some examples of how much college stations would have to pay under the regulations:

* A radio station that Webcasts 15 songs an hour, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and attracts 200 online listeners an hour would pay the recording industry $5,256 per year.

* A radio station that Webcasts 15 songs an hour, nine months every year, 18 hours a day and attracts 10 online listeners an hour would rack up fees of $146, but the station would pay the minimum $500 per year.

* An online-only station that Webcasts 15 songs an hour, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and attracts 100 online listeners an hour would pay the recording industry $9,198 per year.

SOURCE: U.S. Copyright Office

The following are some of the college-affiliated radio and online stations that have ceased Webcasting because of the fees and reporting requirements associated with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act:

Arkansas Tech University -- KXRJ-FM

Azusa Pacific University -- KAPU-FM

Bellevue Community College -- KBCS-FM

Cayuga County Community College -- WDWN-FM

Central Michigan University -- WMHW-FM

Clemson University -- WSBF-FM

Colby College -- WMHB-FM

Emerson College -- WERS-FM

Georgetown College (Ky.) -- WRVG-FM

Houston Community College-Southwest College --

New York University -- WNYU-FM

Oakland University (Mich.) -- WXOU-FM

Ohio Northern University -- WONB-FM

Oregon State University -- KBVR-FM

San Diego City College -- KSDS-FM

San Jose State University -- KSJS-FM

Swarthmore College -- WSRN-FM

Texas A&M University at Commerce -- KETR-FM

Texas A&M University at Kingsville -- KTAI-FM

University of Akron Main Campus -- WZIP-FM

University of California at Los Angeles --

University of Massachusetts at Amherst -- WMUA-FM

University of Pittsburgh Main Campus -- WPTS-FM

University of Richmond -- WDCE-FM

University of Southern Colorado -- KTSC-FM

University of Tennessee at Knoxville -- WUTK-FM

University of Wisconsin at Madison -- WSUM-FM

University of Wisconsin at Whitewater -- WSUW-FM

Virginia Tech -- WUVT-FM

William Jewell College -- KWJC-FM

Some college radio stations have continued Webcasting despite the fees and proposed reporting requirements:

George Washington University -- WRGW-AM (

Hobart and William Smith Colleges -- WEOS-FM (

Middlebury College -- WRMC-FM (

Savannah College of Art and Design --

University of Louisiana at Monroe -- KXUL-FM (

University of Texas at Austin -- KVRX-FM (

SOURCES: Save Our Streams; Chronicle reporting
Section: Information Technology
Page: A33

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