The new rates, which are retroactive back last year, are set at .08 center per track per listener, increasing to .19 center per track per listener by 2010. Given the number of tracks that any 'caster plays in a given day, this adds up very, very quickly. These higher fees may shut down many small and nonprofit webcasters, only leaving those who have other sources of revenue to continue using the 'net as an outlet for the music they choose.
What happens next? Those involved in the proceeding have the option of appealing to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Meanwhile, this ruling may raise the profile of the issue in Congress, where some members have before noted the real discrepancies in what webcasters are forced to pay, while traditional radio stations pay less to songwriters, and nothing at all to performing artists.