Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Intellectual Property

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Playing Music in Bars and Restaurants – Cautions When Allowing Broadcast Stations to Play in Retail Outlets

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Music Rights
Yesterday, I noted a news story about a bar that stopped hosting live music when it was hit with a lawsuit by BMI because it had not paid royalties for its use of music.  The issue of music in bars and restaurants also came up in a continuing legal education seminar on music licensing that… Continue Reading

No Cost of Living Change in Webcasting Royalties for 2019 – Rate Proceeding for 2021-2026 about to Begin

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, Noncommercial Broadcasting
Last week, the Copyright Royalty Board announced its calculations for whether there would be a cost of living increase in the 2019 rates that Internet radio stations pay to SoundExchange for the public performance of sound recordings. In its initial release on the subject, the CRB’s announcement indicated that commercial webcasters would continue to pay… Continue Reading

Podcaster Sued for Copyright Infringement for Using Music without Permission – Remember ASCAP, BMI and SESAC Licenses Don’t Cover All the Rights Needed for Podcasting

Posted in Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Podcasting
It was news earlier this week when a company that promotes poker was sued by one of the major record labels and publishing companies for the use of music in podcasts without permission. As we have written before (see, for instance, our articles here and here), the use of music in podcasts requires a license… Continue Reading

Another Caution on Social Media – Be Careful What You Share

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Podcasting, Website Issues
Can retweeting or sharing someone else’s content get you into trouble? Possibly, based on news reports of a recently filed lawsuit seeking damages for defamation from a cable TV host who retweeted a twitter photo suggesting that someone has made racially derogatory comments. This case seems similar to the one about which we wrote here,… Continue Reading

Hey Alexa – Remind Me How Much You Are Increasing My SoundExchange Music Royalties

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media, Podcasting
At almost every broadcast conference, there is a discussion of using Alexa, Google Home and other smart speakers and digital assistants to increase the reach of broadcast radio stations. Discussions of how to get listeners to tune in and how to monetize the listeners on these new platforms are regularly included. But rarely is there a… Continue Reading

Music Modernization Act Becomes Law – Mechanical Rights To Become Easier Just As Performance Rights May Become More Difficult

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Music Rights
Last week, after passage by both chambers of Congress and signature by the President, the ‘‘Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act’’ became law. The law underwent a few changes on its journey to approval, adding new provisions in the Senate to those which we summarized here upon its initial passage by the House. The… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Upholds Copyright Royalty Board’s 2015 Webcasting Royalty Rate Decision

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The US Court of Appeals today released a decision upholding the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2015 decision setting the SoundExchange royalty rates for 2016-2020. We wrote about that decision here, and provided more details here. In any appeal of an agency decision, the Court routinely affords the agency deference in reaching its decision. The Court will… Continue Reading

September Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Annual Regulatory Fees; Nationwide EAS Test; Comment Dates on FM Translator Interference, Audio Competition, Children’s Television Requirements, and Reimbursement for LPTV and FM Repacking Costs; and More

Posted in AM Radio, Broadcast Performance Royalty, Children's Programming and Advertising, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Intellectual Property, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, Programming Regulations, Television
While September is one of those months with neither EEO reports nor Quarterly Issues Programs or Children’s Television Reports, that does not mean that there are no regulatory matters of importance to broadcasters. Quite the contrary – as there are many deadlines to which broadcasters should be paying attention. The one regulatory obligation that in… Continue Reading

More Podcast Legal Issues – Getting Releases From Interview Subjects

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Podcasting, Privacy
In recent weeks, I’ve written about my presentation at the Podcast Movement Convention on legal issues for broadcasters who are thinking about podcasting, and followed up with an article warning any company with employees or contractors creating podcasts or other digital media projects to be sure to clarify who owns the content that is created.… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Finds That Digital Remasters of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings Likely Do Not Result in New Copyrighted Work That Would Bring These Songs under Federal Law – Reversing District Court Decision

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
Two years ago, a District Court Judge, in a case brought against a broadcaster alleging that the broadcaster owed money under California state law for playing pre-1972 sound recordings, dismissed the suit finding that the broadcaster was playing digitized versions of those songs, created after 1972, which were covered under Federal copyright law (we wrote… Continue Reading

More on the Need to Make Clear Who Owns Digital and Social Media Assets

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Podcasting, Website Issues
Last week, we wrote about legal issues for podcasters, and made the point that media companies should be making clear by contract or otherwise who owns the podcasts that their employees and independent contractors have created. This week, there was press coverage (see, for instance, the article here) about a law suit filed by a… Continue Reading

A Presentation on Legal Issues for Podcasters – Who Owns What?

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Podcasting, Website Issues
Last week, I spoke at Podcast Movement 2018 – a large conference of podcasters held in Philadelphia. My presentation, Legal Issues In Podcasting – What Broadcasters Need to Know, was part of the Broadcasters Meet Podcasters Track. The slides from my presentation are available here. In the presentation, I discussed copyright issues, including some of the… Continue Reading

Hey, Alexa, How Are Your Affecting My Podcasting Music Royalty Obligations?

Posted in Appearances, Digital Radio, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media, Podcasting, Website Issues
Next Wednesday, July 25, I will be speaking at the Podcast Movement Conference in Philadelphia, as part of the Broadcasters Meet Podcasters Track, discussing legal issues that broadcasters need to consider as they move some of their content into podcasts. One of the topics that I will be discussing will be the music royalty obligations… Continue Reading

Hey, Alexa, How Much Did You Raise My SoundExchange Royalties?

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
In the last year, the popularity of Alexa, Google Home and similar “smart speaker” devices has led to discussions at almost every broadcast conference of how radio broadcasters should embrace the technology as the new way for listeners to access radio programming in their homes. Broadcasters are urged to adopt strategies to take advantage of the… Continue Reading

12 Years of the Broadcast Law Blog – Where We Have Been and What We Are Looking at Next

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Television, Uncategorized, Website Issues
In 10 days, we’ll mark the 12th anniversary of my first post welcoming readers to this Blog.  I’d like to thank all of you who read the blog, and the many of you who have had nice words to say about its contents over the years.  In the dozen years that the blog has been… Continue Reading

Copyright Royalty Board Announces Proposed New SoundExchange Royalties for Business Establishment Services

Posted in Intellectual Property, Music Rights
While Copyright Royalty Board decisions on royalties for webcasters, Sirius XM and mechanical royalties get most of the attention, the CRB also sets rates paid by “business establishment services” for the “ephemeral copies” made in their music businesses. Business establishment services are the companies that provide music to businesses to play in retail stores, restaurants… Continue Reading

RMLC Initiates Rate Court Proceeding with BMI to Set Radio Royalties – What Does It Mean?

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Music Rights
Last week, the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), the organization representing most commercial radio broadcasters in negotiating performance royalties for musical compositions, initiated a proceeding in US District Court in the Southern District of New York against BMI.  This action raises short-term issues as to what this particular lawsuit means for the radio industry, and… Continue Reading

Senate to Hold Hearing on May 15 on Music Modernization Act

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
The week before last, we summarized the provisions of the Music Modernization Act as passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate is now poised to take up this legislation in a hearing scheduled by the Senate Judiciary Committee for next Tuesday, May 15. The legislation proposes, among other things, to set up a SoundExchange-like… Continue Reading

May Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – FCC Meeting, FM Translator and LPTV Filing Windows, Political Windows and More Consideration of Music Reforms

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Music Rights, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting
May is one of those months where there are neither deadlines for EEO Public File Reports nor for any of the quarterly filings of issues/programs lists and children’s television reports. But the lack of these routine filing deadlines does not mean that there are no dates of interest in the coming month to broadcasters and… Continue Reading

House of Representatives Passes Music Modernization Act – Looking for Clarity on Mechanical Royalties, Pre-1972 Sound Recordings and Other Music Rights Issues

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
This week, the US House of Representatives passed the Music Modernization Act. While widely supported among many digital media companies providing on-demand subscription music services as well as by many in the music industry, the bill seemingly has not received the publicity that has been afforded to past music royalty legislation. That may be, in… Continue Reading

Commercial Radio – Remember to Sign RMLC/SESAC Contract By March 26 to Get the Full Benefit of Arbitration Decision

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Music Rights
We wrote last summer about the substantial reductions in SESAC royalties that the Radio Music License Committee was able to achieve for commercial radio stations through a decision in its arbitration proceeding. RMLC recently sent out an email to all commercial stations that had authorized it to act on the stations’ behalf reminding them that,… Continue Reading

Using Copyrighted Content on a Website – Including News Articles and Videos – Secure the Rights!

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Website Issues
In recent weeks, I have had several calls from broadcasters asking if it was permissible to copy articles from other news sources and post them on the station website – with attribution to the original source. As I told them, posting content without permission of the copyright holder can lead to big problems. We have… Continue Reading

Copyright Office Grants Second Extension of Comment Dates in Proceeding Looking at MVPD Reporting Obligations and the Definition of Cable System

Posted in Cable Carriage, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Television
In December, we wrote about a proceeding initiated by the Copyright Office to review the reporting obligations of cable and satellite television systems related to the statutory license that permits those systems to carry the programming of local television stations.  Systems must report information including revenue and subscriber information that allow royalties to be computed. … Continue Reading

Court Finds That Embedded Twitter Photo on Website May Subject Website Owner to Copyright Liability – Be Careful What You Post

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Website Issues
Last week, a US District Court Judge in the influential Southern District of New York issued an opinion finding that the fact that a picture of New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady that was displayed on the websites of a number of media defendants was potentially infringing – even though the photo was not copied… Continue Reading