Internet radio negotiations in US "

Internet radio broadcasters and the US music industry appeared to be moving closer to resolving a dispute over a new system mandating higher royalty fees for streaming music online, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said participants described the negotiations as constructive and said they hoped to build on the momentum achieved last week, when both sides promised quick progress on the issue at a closed-door Congressional meeting held by Rep. Ed Markey, D.-Mass.

The talks were continuing past a July 15 deadline, when a new set of royalties mandated by a panel of three copyright judges went into effect, the report said.

The judges made the ruling in May after the music industry and webcasters were unable to agree on a new royalty system to replace a previous set of agreements that expired at the end of 2005, the report added.

The new royalties could pinch companies large and small that stream music over the Internet, a service enjoyed by millions of people.

The report also quoted Richard Ades, a spokesman for SoundExchange, a music industry group that collects royalties from webcasters and distributes them to artists and record labels, as saying that his group was 'hopeful' about reaching an agreement soon with commercial webcasters such as radio stations.

A central issue dividing the music industry and commercial webcasters is a minimum fee for each channel that is streamed online. Companies such as Pandora Media that have large numbers of customizable channels could be on the hook for major payments under a strict enforcement of the new rate system.

Ades said the sides have made progress on agreeing on a maximum annual payment for each webcaster, regardless of the number of streams.

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