Many Webcasters who have elected the the royalty rates set by many of the settlement agreements entered into pursuant to the Webcasters Settlement Act must file an election notice with SoundExchange by January 31 to continue to be covered by those settlement agreements. These agreements were entered into by groups of webcasters and SoundExchange, and allow the webcasters to pay royalties at rates lower than those rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board for 2006-2010. January 31 is an important date even for those webcasters who are covered by agreements that don’t demand an annual election, as most Internet radio operators must make annual minimum fee payments by January 31. SoundExchange does not send out reminders of these obligations, so Internet Radio operators must remember to make these filings on their own. The original election forms filed under settlement agreements signed by the NAB and by Sirius XM cover the entire settlement period from 2006-2015, so no election form must be filed each year, though minimum fee payments must still be made. Note that certain small broadcasters, who need not meet SoundExchange recordkeeping obligations, do need to file an election to certify that they still meet the standards necessary to count as a small broadcaster. The WSA settlement agreements that cover Pureplay webcasters, Small Commercial webcasters, Noncommercial Educational webcasters and other noncommercial webcasters all are entered into on a year-by-year basis. Thus, to continue to be covered, parties currently governed by these agreements need to file a Notice of Election to again be covered by these agreements by January 31 (though note that the SoundExchange website provides for filings by February 1, presumably as January 31 is a Sunday).
The election forms are available on the SoundExchange website, though they are not easy to find. The forms that must accompany the annual minimum fees are also on the SoundExchange website. Note that in some cases there are forms that cover both webcasters who paying under a particular settlement, as well as under the special provisions for small entities that are covered by these same agreements (e.g. Small Pureplay webcasters file a different form than other Pureplay Webcasters even though both are governed by the same agreement. Similarly Small Broadcasters file a form different than other broadcasters, though both are covered by the same agreement). These forms can be found at the links below. Click on the name of the category of webcasters for a link to our article that summarizes the particular settlement, the minimum fees required, and the qualifications for small webcasters under that deal (if there is such a provision):
- Broadcasters minimum fee form – here.
- Small broadcasters election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Pureplay webcaster election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Small pureplay election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Small commercial webcaster election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Microcaster election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Noncommercial educational webcaster election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Other noncommercial webcaster election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Noncommercial microcasters election form – here. Minimum fee payment form – here.
- Satellite radio (for their webcasting operations – a deal that may also fit other commercial webcasters who are not covered by other agreements) minimum fee payment form – here.
Note that there is no specific form for NPR affiliates covered under the NPR settlement, as an organization set up by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting handles all payments and SoundExchange filings. Other companies providing Internet radio services need to pay attention to these dates – and file the necessary papers and make the required payments by the upcoming deadline.
Update – 1/15/10 – After posting this entry, I learned that SoundExchange has in fact been sending reminder notices about minimum fees to webcasters who have previously paid royalties. This obviously does not help new services, or other services that may have overlooked their obligations in 2009, but it does show that SoundExchange is developing the infrastructure of other performing rights organizations to better keep in contact with their "customers." Note that these notices came by regular mail several weeks ago, so some may have overlooked or forgotten about them. And, as with most other filing obligations, the failure to receive a reminder is not an excuse to miss the filing deadlines described above. So pay attention to these obligations.