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Internet radio to go silent on June 26?

The latest front in Webcasters' protest of elevated royalty fees is a "day of silence," and some larger stations are expected to participate.

If you depend on the sounds of Internet radio to get you through your workday, don't be surprised if your headphones pipe out little more than dead air next Tuesday.

In protest of the elevated royalty fees Webcasters are poised to begin owing to the record industry next month, Internet radio operators are planning to stage a "day of silence."

So far, Live365 and have agreed to cease their music programming on June 26, save for brief audio public service announcements sprinkled throughout the day, according to a Wednesday report by Kurt Hanson of the Radio and Internet Newsletter,. So has the online presence of KCRW, the Southern California-based public radio station.

UPDATE at 6:03 a.m. PDT on Friday: SaveNetRadio, an advocacy group opposed to the copyright judges' action, has posted an updated list of protest participants (PDF), which now also include Yahoo, RealNetworks' Rhapsody, MTV Online, and more than 30 other stations.

Smaller Webcasters staged a similar protest five years ago in response to a similar rules change by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board.

At issue are fee hikes that the Internet radio community says could bankrupt its services, particularly those run by smaller operators. SoundExchange, the non-profit collection entity that lobbied for the changes, has repeatedly argued the changes are fair and necessary to ensure artists are compensated adequately.

Opponents of the changes are still hoping for a reprieve before the July 15 date on which the royalties are scheduled to kick in. They are continuing to pressure politicians on Capitol Hill to pass bills that would overturn the royalty rate increases and align them with those required of other digital services, such as satellite. Some groups have also asked a federal appeals court to delay the rate changes.