Bye Bye Web Radio?

Michael Robertson, the outspoken founder of, Linspire, and Gizmo, posted the following estimates to a list I’m on. It’s the annual copyright licensing fees that leading webcasters have to pay under new rules established by the Copyright Royalty Board:

AOL Music – $20MM for 2006
Live365 -$53.6MM for 2006 (3.6MM in royalties plus $500 times 100K
stations which costs $50MM)
Pandora – $70MM for 2006 (20MM for royalties and lets say they have 100K
stations which costs 50MM – I have created 3 of them for myself over
time. Depending on how you count they could have millions of stations
taking their liability to hundreds of millions – hell even BILLIONS.)

Michael described these numbers (which, by the way, increase 20% or more per year after 2007) as “ludicrous.” It’s hard to disagree. Until 2005 there was a special exemption for small webcasters, but that appears to be going away. It seems like another case of the music industry shooting itself in the foot.