The Internet is a haven for free expression. Not only are content-based restrictions disfavored, but "[the internet] provides relatively unlimited, low-cost capacity for communication of all kinds." Almost half of all Americans have listened to music online, whether rebroadcasts of terrestrial radio or to find niche music that terrestrial radio simply does not play, and 13 percent tune in regularly. Webcasters provide a unique outlet for new artists; however, if royalty rates are set too high for all but the largest webcasters to stay in business, the variety of music available will be severely restricted. Musical diversity stimulates the generation of new music and ideas; the mass media concentration and conformity of music may have the opposite effect, by encouraging politically mainstream messages and censoring out those which are not. Increasing royalties to the point of putting most webcasters out of business would work to destroy one of the last readily accessible sources of alternative, non-mainstream music. In response to the current state of affairs regarding royalties, I suggest that a new rate-setting model is needed for webcasters and propose a new structure.
Royalty Rate-Setting for Webcasters: A Royal(ty) Mess,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
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