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Recent Ruling May Spell End Of Internet Radio

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The days of listening to radio on the Internet are numbered. The Library of Congress ruled that radio stations and webcasters that stream audio on the Internet must pay royalties to a copyright fund. The ruling is spelling the end for many large and small Internet broadcasters.

James Evans runs an Internet radio station from his home in Apex. His station,


, has no call letters and no spot on a radio dial. The recent ruling requiring Evans to pay copyright fees will force him to change how he operates.

"Somewhere, somebody's going to have to pay for this stuff. It's going to have to be the listener or me, so it's either a subscription program or I stop growing," he said.

Streaming audio makes Internet radio possible. People can listen to most any type of music on a properly set up computer at work or at home. The growth of Internet radio caught the attention of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents the record companies.

"The RIAA and all of its associated record labels, they are all about the distribution of music. They would like to own the distribution channels," Evans said.

Internet stations are already dropping off the Net, unable to pay the fees required and do the record keeping.


is a student-supported, non-commercial FM station at UNC-Chapel Hill. It claims to be the first station ever to broadcast on the Internet, beginning in 1994.

Even at the lower non-commercial fee of two-hundredths of a cent per listener per song, station officials said they cannot afford the fees and will likely be forced off the Internet.

"People who can afford to can continue broadcasting and people who can't will have to stop, and obviously that leaves out most of the non-commercial stations," assistant manager Ashley Atkinson said.

Hundreds of Internet-only broadcasters have shut down and most commercial radio stations that streamed their signal have put the Net on hold.


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