The NAB has announced agreements with Sony and Warner Music Groups to waive certain of the statutory requirements for broadcasters who stream their over-the-air signals on the Internet.  The NAB had entered into similar agreements with all of the major labels and major independent labels back in 2009 (see our summary here).  But those agreements expired at the end of 2015, giving rise to fears among some broadcasters that some standard broadcast programming could not be streamed on the Internet (see our article here about those concerns).  These agreements, at least as to Sony and Warner, mitigate those fears.  This article provides a summary of some of the most important aspects of the new waivers.

These waivers cover requirements set forth in the Copyright Act which broadcasters, especially those who stream, may have difficulty meeting.  Generally, the waivers provide the following:

  • Relief from the statutory requirements as to “ephemeral copies” of sound recordings that require that such recordings can be kept for no longer than 6 months.  If that rule was to be applied strictly, stations that make a copy of a sound recording in furtherance of their streaming (or for their over-the-air broadcasts), by for instance making a copy of a song so that it can be stored in their digital music storage systems, could keep those copies for only 6 months.  After that time, the station would be required to delete any copy of a song and re-record it if they wanted to keep a copy in their music library for another six months.
  • The agreements waive the performance complement, which would otherwise limit a station that is streaming its signal from playing more than 2 songs from the same CD or album in a row, or playing more than 3 songs in a row from the same artist, or from playing more than 4 songs from the same artist (or from the same box set) in a 3-hour period.  The waivers allow stations to exceed these limits, only if they continue to play music in a manner consistent with normal broadcast operations.  However, even with the waiver, no station can play more than half an album consecutively.
  • The waivers allow stations to announce upcoming artists, only if they don’t announce the specific times that specific songs will be played.
  • The waivers allow some relief from the obligation that a broadcaster streaming their on-air programming on the Internet identify in text on their website or mobile app the name of the song that is playing, the artist who performs the song, and the album from which that song is taken.  That relief is limited to circumstances where, from time to time, a station can’t easily provide such textual information.


Continue Reading NAB Announces Agreements with Sony and Warner to Waive Performance Complement and Other Statutory Requirements for Broadcasters Who Stream Their Signals

 Just when you think that the year will come to a quiet end, something always seems to pop up.  Today, the Copyright Royalty Board announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would change the reporting requirements for services that pay royalties for the use of sound recordings to SoundExchange.  The proposed new rules would require that Reports of Use submitted by services relying on the statutory royalty contain "full census reporting" of all songs played by any service.  Services would include all users of music who pay royalties due under Sections 112 or 114 of the Copyright Act – including Internet Radio, satellite radio, digital cable radio, digitally transmitted business establishment services, and radio-like services delivered by other digital means, including deliveries to cell phones. This reporting requirement would replace the current system, about which we wrote here, that only requires reporting for two weeks each quarter.  Under the new rules, an Internet radio service would have to submit the name of every song that they play to SoundExchange, along with information as to how many times that song played, the name of the featured artist, and either the recording’s ISRC code or both the album title and label.  Comments on this proposal are due by January 29.

Currently, the quarterly reports are filed electronically using an ASCII format and using either an Excel or Quattro Pro spreadsheet template as created by SoundExchange.  The Board asks for comments as to whether there are technological impediments to providing this information in this manner, and if other changes should be made to more easily facilitate the delivery of this information.  The Copyright Royalty Judges who make up the CRB expressed their opinion that the full census reporting is preferable to the limited information now provided, so that SoundExchange does not need to rely on estimates or projections to insure that all artists are fairly compensated when their works are played.  Using census reporting, all artists can be paid based on how often their songs are actually played.


Continue Reading Copyright Royalty Board Proposes Full “Census” Reporting for Services Paying Royalties to SoundExchange