This week, several notices of the intent to audit the records of several webcasters and other digital music services were published in the Federal Register, indicating that SoundExchange was planning on having the royalty payment records of these services reviewed. Notices were sent to services including Live365, iHeartMedia and CBS). Those notices have prompted several calls asking what this is all about. We have written before about these audits (see our article here). It is a somewhat routine process, where each year SoundExchange picks several webcasters whose records it will have reviewed. Under the rules adopted by the Copyright Royalty Board, SoundExchange can elect to audit a webcaster (or other digital music service – and some of the notices this week were for services that were not webcasters – one to a background music provider or what is referred to as a “business establishment service”, here). SoundExchange can, and usually does, elect to review three years of records. They can only review any service once for the same time period, so effectively a service can be audited only once every three years.
Under the rules, an independent CPA is to do the audit. Once the audit is complete, it must be provided to the music service for comment. Then, it is up to SoundExchange and the service to work out what to do if there are discrepancies identified by the audit with which the service does not agree. The rules do not provide for any independent adjudicator to referee what happens if there is a disagreement. SoundExchange pays for the audit, unless the audit determines that the service underpaid by 10% or more, in which case the costs can be transferred to the service.
Continue Reading SoundExchange to Audit iHeart, CBS and Other Webcasters and Digital Music Services