The U.S. Senate passed the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008, sending it to President Bush's desk for signature two days after the U.S. House of Representatives okayed the bill.

The bill allows for SoundExchange, on behalf of copyright owners and
performers, to negotiate with Internet radio services through 2015 an
alternative royalty agreement while Congress is in recess.

The negotiations are aimed at setting aside a 2007 decision by the Copyright Royalty Board that set a royalty rate that Internet radio participants said would endanger the fiscal health of webcasting. If the President signs the bill and new royalty agreements are reached, it would set a royalty rate retroactive to 2006, and allow for a framework that could resolve future disputes through 2015, according to an announcement by the Digital Media Association (DiMA).

“On behalf of DiMA and our Internet radio members, I want to thank Congress for acting quickly to pass the Webcaster Settlement Act," said DiMA executive director Jonathan Potter, in a statement. "This legislation will enable DiMA and our member companies, and all Internet radio services, to continue negotiating royalty rates with SoundExchange for the years 2006-2015. We are very hopeful of reaching agreement soon, and thereby creating long-term stability that will re-energize the Internet radio business."

In addition to DiMA, SoundExchange, National Public Radio (NPR) and the
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) also welcomed the bill's passage in the House of Representatives earlier this week.