Well hell yeah: Wired’s Eliot Van Buskirk is reporting that webcasters are catching a major break from the egregious ruling handed down by the Library of Congress’s Copyright Royalty Board, which would’ve bankrupted most Internet radio providers and essentially shuttered the whole webcasting business for at least a few years. The public response to this unfair development has been big enough to get the generally techno-phobic U.S. Congress involved in sorting out the matter. Congress will be mediating discussions between a coalition of webcasters and the RIAA spin-off SoundExchange, which handles collecting and distributing Internet royalites. As of right now, the per-channel charge has been trashed—salvation for mega-multi-channel entities like Pandora—and SoundExchange has agreed not to collect the revised-rate back royalties that webcasters were going to have to pay on Monday.
What does this mean? Well, if they can hammer out a decent deal, it’ll mean that webcasters are going to continue to be able to do their thing without having to pay out more royalties than they collect in revenue, which would be great. And I guess it also means that Congress not only took action against an industry behemoth in response to the demands of a coalition of (mostly) independent media outlets and their constituents, but also handled a somewhat complicated technological issue with a measure of grace and fairness, which has me wondering if any other elementary principles of reality have been violated today. I just went to the faucet to check if water is still wet, and it is . . . for now.