By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 26, 2002 at 5:39 AM

Now that the Librarian of Congress has OK'd the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel's (CARP) ruling on fees that Internet radio stations must pay in order to keep the music streaming, many stations are predicting, and fearing, the worst.

Back in 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which gave record companies the right to collect royalities from performance of their copyrighted works via digital media, like Internet and satellite radio stations, many of which are streamed versions of their aired broadcasts, like Milwaukee's WMSE.

Although the DMCA guaranteed licenses for Web broadcasters -- with some stipulations -- those broadcasters would be required to pay a royalty rate, retroactive to 1998, determined by the U.S. Copyright Office. That determination is the CARP ruling.

What has many Web broadcasters irate is that different rules apply to them. On-the-air radio has never had to pay royalties to record companies or artists, because it was believed that the performance of those songs was of promotional value. Royalties are paid only to composers.

But since the copyright office believes that streamed music provides listeners with perfect digital copies that could cut into record industry profits, Internet broadcasters will be forced to pay record companies and artists.

What the Recording Industry Association of America says about the cost to Web broadcasters and what the broadcasters say, as you might expect, don't jibe. The RIAA released a statement in April claiming that broadcasters are crying wolf and that the industry is doing what it can to help.

"The RIAA has heard the complaints raised by Webcasters and has responded by proposing recordkeeping regulations that take into account many of the Webcasters' concerns," said Steven Marks, Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs, in a comment posted on the RIAA site. "For example, RIAA has simplified its proposal by dropping the listener log, which resulted in considerable confusion and criticism. We look forward to working with webcasters on having these reasonable regulations adopted so that record labels and artists can begin receiving royalties."

But Webcasters argue that CARP's royalty rate is much higher than the rate paid to songwriters. Webcasters had lobbied for a "percentage of revenues" royalty plan that would help them remain viable, especially considering many Webcasters are little more than hobbyists, thanks in part to the fact that ad revenues for the unproven Internet radio concept are sparse.


Brennan Underwood, who runs without the benefit of advertising dollars, has spoken out on the issue on his site.

"The new rates for Internet broadcasters were finalized yesterday, and most streams will not be able to afford to pay them," Underwood writes. "The upshot is, if you stream music, you pay. Period. And the money you pay goes to the artists on the Billboard charts. Basically they are insisting I pay a ransom to Britney so I can bring you a.p.e. I will not do that.

"I kept my stream up anyway overnight while I thought about this and how to keep the stream up while adhering to my values," Underwood continues. "Maybe I could sneak by. Maybe I could find the money somewhere. But the whole thing stinks. I haven't made a dime from the stream. Not one damned penny. I've paid for everything out of pocket, except the bandwidth, which my work paid for. And what adds insult to injury, is that I bought almost every CD I play music from. ... If you're not pissed, you should be."

The ruling may also affect stations like Milwaukee's Frontier Radio, WMSE, the radio station based at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, which streams its live broadcasts via its Web site,

If we don't pay their fees, we might get a cease and desist (order) from them and have to yank our webcast," says program director Buzz Bereiter. "It's unfortunate. We were getting a growing audience due to transplanted Milwaukeeans turning their friends on to the programming."

And, Bereiter says, the record industry is focusing on the wrong front in its battle to stop falling profits.

"It sppears the RIAA feels that poor A&R and a soft CD market are not factoring in their economic losses as significantly as downloading and Webcasting music," he says. "I'm sure this will result in a lot of the "little guys" boarding up their sites.

For more information on this issue and to learn about what you can do, visit

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.