internet radio recordkeeping

The recent Copyright Royalty Board decision (see my summary here) setting the rates to be paid by Internet radio operators to SoundExchange for the rights to publicly perform sound recordings (a particular recording of a song as performed by an artist or band) still raises many questions. Today, Jacobs Media Strategies published on their blog an article I wrote on the topic – discussing 5 things that broadcasters should know about music royalties. While the content of the article is, to some who are accustomed to dealing with digital music rights, very basic, there are many to whom the additional guidance can be helpful. The subject of music rights is so confusing to those who do not routinely deal with the topic – even to those who work in radio or other industries that routinely perform music and to journalists and analysts that write about the topic. Thus, repeating the basics can still be important. For those who click through from the Jacobs blog to this one, and for others interested in more information on the topics on which I wrote, I thought that I’d post some links to past articles on this blog on the subjects covered in the Jacobs article. So here are the topic headings, and links to where you can find additional information.

The new royalties set by the CRB represent a big savings for broadcasters. I wrote how the royalties represent a big savings for most broadcasters who simulcast their signals on the Internet. I provide more details about the new rates and how they compare to the old ones here.
Continue Reading 5 Things Broadcasters Should Know About SoundExchange Music Royalties

The Copyright Royalty Board has extended the deadline for comments on proposals to change the recordkeeping obligations of webcasters and others who use music under the statutory license granted by Section 114 of the Copyright Act.  Some of the proposed changes include requiring that services provide ISRC codes for all songs when filing their Reports

The Copyright Royalty Board has ordered that most digital music services provide "census reporting" of all songs played by their service, along with other information including the number of listeners who heard each song each time it was played.  The decision, published in the Federal Register today, is a follow up to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking about which we wrote here, proposing this new permanent rule to replace the interim requirements that required that digital music services provide that information for two weeks each quarter.  The only exception to the new obligation was for "small broadcasters" – i.e. those broadcasters who are only obligated to pay the minimum $500 annual royalty. These small broadcasters will continue to report on the songs that they play for only two weeks each quarter.

The new general rule requiring census reporting applies to all digital music services that pay royalties to SoundExchange for the public performance of sound recordings. However, the obligations set out in this general rule do not replace different rules that may be contained in settlement agreements entered into between services and SoundExchange.  Settlements with recordkeeping exemptions include the broadcaster settlement (summarized here), which give stations the ability to exclude some of their tuning hours from the census reporting requirements that were included in that settlement, and the noncommercial settlement agreements summarized here.  The CRB decision also excludes those services where per performance reporting is not possible (such as satellite radio services where there is no easy way to count performances). Continue Reading Copyright Royalty Board Requires Census Reporting for All Webcasters Except for Small Broadcasters

The past few days have been eventful ones in the battle over Internet radio royalties.  Appeals from the decision of the Copyright Royalty Board decision (see our memo explaining that decision, as well as our coverage of the history of this case) were submitted by virtually all of the parties to the case.  In addition, the National Association of Broadcasters, which had not previously been a party to the case, filed a request to intervene in the appeal to argue that the CRB decision adversely affects its members.  Also in Court, a Motion for Stay of the decision was submitted, asking that the CRB decision be held in abeyance while the appeal progresses.  The "appeals" that were filed last week are simply notices that parties dispute the legal basis for the decision, and that they are asking that the Court review that decision.  These filings don’t contain any substantive arguments.  Those come later, once the Court sets up a briefing schedule and a date for oral arguments – all of which will occur much later in the year.  As the CRB decision goes into effect on July 15, absent a Stay, the appeal would have no effect on the obligations to begin to pay royalties at the new rates.

The Stay was filed by the large webcasters represented by DiMA, the smaller independent webcasters that I have represented in this case, and NPR.  To be granted a stay, the Court must look at a number of factors.  These include the likelihood that the party seeking the stay will be successful on appeal, the fact that irreparable harm will occur if the stay is not granted, the harm that would be caused by the grant of a stay, and the public interest benefits that would be advanced by the stay.  The Motion filed last week addressed these points.  It raised a number of substantive issues including the minimum per channel fee  set by the CRB decision, the lack of a percentage of revenue fee for smaller webcasters, and issues about the ability of NPR stations to track the metrics necessary to comply with the CRB decision.  The Motion raised the prospect of immediate and irreparable harm that would occur if the decision was not stayed, as several webcasters stated that enforcement of the new rates could put them out of business.Continue Reading NAB Joins the Fray on Internet Radio – Appeals and a Request for Stay are Filed, And a Settlement Offer is Made to Noncommercial Webcasters