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Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Intellectual Property

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Magistrate Rules RMLC Suit Against GMR Should Not Be Litigated in Pennsylvania – What Does that Mean for Radio Companies?

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Music Rights
Yesterday brought news that a Federal Magistrate issued a ruling (a 42 page order discussing fine points of law) deciding that the antitrust lawsuit brought by RMLC against GMR should not be tried in the Pennsylvania court where the suit was brought. As we wrote here, RMLC (the group that represents many commercial radio operators… Continue Reading

December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO, TV and Translator Filing Windows, Ancillary Revenue Reports, Main Studio Rule Effective Date, Copyright Office Take-Down Notice Registration and More

Posted in AM Radio, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Intellectual Property, Low Power Television/Class A TV, On Line Media, Television, Website Issues
While the end of the year is just about upon us, that does not mean that broadcasters can ignore the regulatory world and celebrate the holidays all through December. In fact, this will be a busy regulatory month, as witnessed by the list of issues that we wrote about yesterday to be considered at the… Continue Reading

SoundExchange Royalties Going Up for Webcasters in 2018

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, Noncommercial Broadcasting
The Copyright Royalty Board yesterday announced in the Federal Register, here, that the sound recording royalty rates paid to SoundExchange will be increasing next year.  In December 2015, when the CRB set the current royalty rates that apply from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2020 (see our articles here and here), the CRB noted that… Continue Reading

Florida Supreme Court Rejects Public Performance Right in Pre-1972 Sound Recordings – What’s Next?

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
In a decision this week, the Florida Supreme Court rejected claims by Flo & Eddie (of the 1960s band the Turtles) that there was a common law public performance right in pre-1972 sound recordings in the state of Florida (the opinion is available here). The Florida court, after examining numerous avenues of argument, concluded that… Continue Reading

Are You Streaming Your Radio Station? Reminder that Broadcasters Need to Pay Royalties to SoundExchange as well as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The alphabet soup of organizations that collect royalties for playing music has never been easy to keep straight, and today royalty issues sometimes seem even more daunting with new players like GMR (see our articles here, here and here) and arguments over issues like fractional licensing that only a music lawyer could love (see our… Continue Reading

Reminder: Electronic Registration of Designated Agent for DMCA Safe-Harbor Take-Down Notices Due at Copyright Office by December 31

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Website Issues
The Copyright Office yesterday issued a reminder, here, that their electronic system for “designated agents” of Internet service providers – those who are to receive notice of any claimed infringing content posted on a service provider’s site – is active and all services must register in that system by December 31 for such registrations to… Continue Reading

September Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Including Reg Fees, Nationwide EAS Test, Must-Carry Letters, Lowest Unit Rate, Translator and Repack Deadlines and GMR License Extension

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Broadcast Performance Royalty, Cable Carriage, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, Political Broadcasting, Television
Summer is coming to an end, but the legal obligations never take a vacation, and September brings another list of regulatory deadlines for broadcasters. While the month is one of those without the usual list of EEO Public File obligations or quarterly FCC filing obligations, there still are a number of other regulatory deadlines for… Continue Reading

Looking at Music Royalty Issues for Radio and TV Broadcasters

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
Last week, I participated in a discussion about music royalties for broadcasters at the Texas Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention in Austin. Speaking on the panel with me were the heads of the Radio Music License Committee and the TV Music Licensing Committee. These are the organizations that represent most commercial broadcasters in their negotiations… Continue Reading

GMR Offers Commercial Radio 6 Month Extension of Interim License to Play Their Songs

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
Global Music Rights, commonly known as GMR, is the newest Performing Rights Organization (PRO) in the US music business, licensing public performance rights to musical compositions of songwriters as diverse as various members of the Eagles to Pharrell Williams to George Gershwin. As we wrote here, in December, they offered a temporary license to the… Continue Reading

SESAC Royalties for Commercial Radio Slashed By More Than Half – Both SESAC and RMLC Claim Victory in Arbitration

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
It was announced this week that SESAC’s royalties for radio for the period starting at the beginning of 2016 through the end of 2018 have been slashed – being reduced to less than half what they were in 2015.  This decision came out of an arbitration process that resulted from the settlement of an antitrust… Continue Reading

CLASSICS Act Introduced to Provide Pre-1972 Sound Recording Public Performance Clarity – What Issues Does It Leave Unresolved?

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The CLASSICS (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service and Important Contributions to Society) Act was introduced in Congress last week to try to clear up some of the ongoing disputes over the public performance rights of pre-1972 sound recordings. Through litigation, certain copyright holders (including, most notably, Flo and Eddie of the 1960’s band… Continue Reading

“Where seldom is heard a discouraging word?” Supreme Court Allows the Federal Registration of Disparaging Trademarks

Posted in Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
The U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated the statutory bar against the federal registration of disparaging trademarks, on the ground that it violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutional. What does this mean for businesses in general, including, in particular, broadcasters and the Washington DC National Football League franchise? History of the Case The case involved… Continue Reading

Music in Podcasts – Reminder that ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange Licenses Don’t Cover Music Use in Podcasts

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
I was recently interviewed by Steve Goldstein of Amplifi Media, a firm that consults for podcast companies, on the difficulties with the use of music in podcasts. That interview has been turned into an article on Steve’s blog, here, discussing these legal issues. That article discusses the same issues that we’ve written about here several… Continue Reading

SoundExchange Acquires CMRRA – What Does it Mean for Music Licensing?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
This week SoundExchange, the non-profit rights organization that collects the royalties paid by digital music companies for the public performance in the United States of sound recordings, announced that it had acquired CMRRA (the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency, Ltd). CMRRA licenses the reproduction rights to musical works in Canada. As we have written before,… Continue Reading

Copyright Office Makes Changes to Registration of Designated Agents for Take-Down Notices for User Generated Content – Reminder of December 1 Deadline to Register in New Electronic System

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Video, On Line Media, Website Issues
The Copyright Office last year announced changes to its system for registering designated agents for receiving take-down notices that are sent by copyright owners when they believe that user-generated content posted on a website is infringing on the copyright owner’s content (see our article here). The new system makes these registrations electronic, and requires all… Continue Reading

Copyright Royalty Board Announces Additional Webcaster Audit by SoundExchange – Reminder to Carefully Maintain Your Royalty Records as They Can be Reviewed at Any Time

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
In the Federal Register last week was a notice that SoundExchange intends to audit the royalty payments of Pandora for its Internet radio service. As we wrote at the beginning of the year, SoundExchange routinely decides to audit representative companies in various segments of the digital music industry. In January, for instance, they issued notices… Continue Reading

Update: Bill to Make Register of Copyrights a Presidential Appointee Approved by House of Representatives

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
We wrote here about the Congressional proposal to make the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee subject to Congressional approval, rather than a selection of the Librarian of Congress. That bill, HR-1695 (an updated version of which is available here), despite some expressed concerns from certain advocacy groups about the potentially making that position more… Continue Reading

New Congressional Attempts to Impose a Performance Royalty for Sound Recordings on Broadcast Radio, Including the PROMOTE Act – What Do They Provide?

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
In the last month, there have been two bills introduced in the US House of Representatives seeking to impose a performance royalty for sound recordings on broadcast radio stations in the US. The bill introduced yesterday, The PROMOTE Act (standing for the Performance Royalty Owners of Music Opportunity to Earn Act – whatever that may… Continue Reading

Bill Proposes to Make the Register of Copyrights a Presidential Appointee

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media
The Copyright Office is now a part of the Library of Congress, with the Register of Copyrights (the head of the Copyright Office) appointed by the Librarian of Congress. As part of its plans to review the Copyright Act, the House Judiciary Committee asked for comments earlier this year about structural reform of the Copyright… Continue Reading

New Wrinkle in Pre-1972 Sound Recording Cases – Georgia Supreme Court Holds that iHeart Streaming Does Not Violate State Criminal Statute

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The Georgia Supreme Court this week issued a decision holding that the streaming of pre-1972 sound recordings by iHeart Media does not violate the state’s criminal statutes against the “transfer” of recorded sounds without the permission of the owner of the master recording. While many trade press articles have lumped this decision in with the… Continue Reading

More on Flo & Eddie: Federal Court Certifies to California State Court Question of Whether There is a Public Performance Right in Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The music battle continues over the question of whether state laws provide a public performance right in pre-1972 sound recordings. While, as we wrote here and here, the highest court in New York has determined that there is no such right in that state ending the litigation there, cases continue in other states, notably California… Continue Reading

Flo and Eddie NY Suit on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings Ordered Dismissed By Court of Appeals – No Issues with Copies Made in the Transmission Process

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
This week, the US Court of Appeals essentially ended Flo and Eddie’s New York case against Sirius XM where it tried to establish a public performance royalty in pre-1972 sound recordings. The Court of Appeals sent the case back to the US District Court with instructions that it be dismissed, finding that a December decision… Continue Reading

February Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO Reports and Comments on Ownership, EEO and Copyright Issues

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, Television
While there is a new administration in charge at the FCC, there are still those regular regulatory dates that broadcasters must face, as well as dates unique to pending proceedings that arise from time to time. Before we get to the February dates, we should remind broadcasters of those January 31 dates that they should… Continue Reading

Copyright Office to Extend Comment Dates on Examination of DMCA Section 512 Safe Harbor for User-Generated Content

Posted in Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
The Copyright Office is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register tomorrow an extension of time for parties who wish to comment on the Request for Additional Comments in its study of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the “safe harbor” for those Internet Service Providers who host websites or run networks on… Continue Reading