Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

KWUR fights to continue online broadcasting

New licensing and royalty fees recently passed by Congress could mean that KWUR, Washington University’s student-run radio station, will have to pay thousands of dollars a year to continue its online broadcast. However, KWUR says that it will fight the new fees and find a way to continue its Internet broadcast.

Since Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in October 2000, non-commercial stations such as KWUR have been awaiting a final decision by the Librarian of Congress about how much stations will have to pay to broadcast songs over the Internet. The legislation was passed to prevent the pirating of music over the Internet.

Currently, KWUR Media Advisor Jim Hayes estimates that the station will have to pay $1,800 annually, according to the most recent reports about what stations will have to pay. Additionally, it will have to pay another $500 annually as part of a separate ephemeral fee.

The most significant sum could come from the broadcasts that the station has already made over the past few years. Under the legislation, stations wishing to continue an online broadcast would not only have to pay for future broadcasts, but also all those in the past. This amount could be as much as $8,000 for KWUR.

Hayes says the most difficult part of finding a solution is that, while Congress says stations must start paying this fall, it has not established exactly how much they will be charged. As a result, KWUR is not sure what to prepare for. Fortunately for them, WU has a music licenses fund, which could be used to pay the fees, instead of the money it receives from Student Union.

Vipin Gandra, KWUR activities director, doubts that the station will have to stop the broadcast.

“When I first saw the fees and everything, my immediate thought was that there was no way we could stay on the internet,” said Gandra. “But after talking to [Hayes], he made me feel a lot better about the situation. He has been in contact with other college stations, and it seems that the general consensus is that we are all trying to fight this.”

While the added cost of the fees could approach those of broadcasting over the radio, Gandra says that the online broadcast has become just as essential to the station’s listeners.

“I think being able to broadcast online is crucial to KWUR,” said Gandra. “Our low wattage prohibits us from getting to a number of people, even in the St. Louis area, so when we went online, we made ourselves available to a huge new audience.”

Because of poor reception in areas such as the South 40, some students in the area choose to listen to the online broadcast, according to Gandra, who also noted that the friends of disc jockeys tune in from across the country. KWUR has even started to develop an international listener base, with individuals using the online broadcast to hear shows from as far away as Brazil.

KWUR’s online broadcast can be found at http://kwur.wustl.edu.

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