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Copyright board to reconsider higher royalties for Net music

LOA ANGELES -- The Library of Congress Copyright Royalty Board agreed to reconsider a decision to increase royalties for music played on the Internet after radio broadcasters complained the new prices were too high.

The judges agreed to listen to arguments submitted by National Public Radio, commercial radio broadcasters, and college stations, the board said yesterday. NPR spokeswoman Andi Sporkin provided a copy of the board's order.

The higher Internet royalties would force NPR stations to cease offering Web simulcasts, Sporkin said. SomaFM, owner of 11 Web music channels, said its 2006 fees would multiply 27 times under the new rates to more than $600,000. Next year's would exceed $1 million, the company said.

Record companies "don't want competition from independent webcasters" because it threatens the labels' business models, SomaFM said.

A call to a Recording Industry Association of America spokesman wasn't immediately returned.

The royalty board on March 2 decided Internet radio outlets must pay a fee for each song they play, a change from a previous formula which called for payment based on a percentage of revenue.

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