The oral argument on the Webcasting appeal of the March 2007 Copyright Royalty Board decision setting Internet radio sound recording royalty rates for 2006-2010 has now been set for March 19. So, if no settlement under the Webcaster Settlement Act (about which we wrote here) is reached before the February 15 deadline set out in that act, the case will go on to the argument, though apparently without NPR, which benefits from the settlement that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has reached with SoundExchange. Even with a settlement with all of the webcasters, SoundExchange is still being challenged by Royalty Logic, which wants to be an alternative collection agency for music royalties, so the case will probably go forward. Royalty Logic is the party which raised the issue of whether the Copyright Royalty Board was properly appointed under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, an issue that looks to invalidate the entire CRB decision. Even thought the Court’s argument will be held in March, a final decision will likely not be released for several months after the argument.
The royalty case that resulted in the much lower royalties for Sirius XM is also scheduled for argument in March, the week after the webcasters case. That decision, about which we wrote here, was decided under the 801(b) standard, which takes into account not only the perceived economic value of the music (the "willing buyer, willing seller" standard used in the webcasting case), but also factors involving the public’s interest in receiving music, and the impact on the industry that the royalties will have. If these cases both go forward, after hearing them in short order, the US Court of Appeals will become the center of the digital music royalty world – at least for a short period of time. Watch for more as these cases develop.