As I posted earlier, the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board negotiated a sweetheart deal for the RIAA and music publishers, mandating webcasters pay extremely expensive royalties. Webcasters, led by NPR, appealed the decision, but that appeal was rejected.
The new royalty scheme goes into effect May 15. Unless something is done now, a lot of radio stations, new media outlets, and anyone else who wants to stream but can’t afford it, will have to shut down their webcasts.
If there were a principled reason within copyright law to stop this, it would apply to radio as well. Record labels tried and failed to get royalties whenever a record was played over radio (see Lessig’s Free Culture). There is no principle here, it’s just a question of whose pocket the copyright administrators and Congress happen to be in.