The Copyright Royalty Board decision on the rates to be paid in the next 5 years by webcasters, including broadcasters who simulcast their programming on the internet, to SoundExchange for the digital public performance of sound recordings is supposed to be released by June 14. These royalties are collected by SoundExchange from noninteractive webcasters (see our articles here, here and here on the difference between interactive and non-interactive webcasters) and are distributed to the artists who perform on recordings and to the copyright holders of those recordings – usually the record labels. The CRB sets these rates in 5-year increments. The rates at issue in the current proceeding are for 2021-2025. As we wrote here and here, these rates would normally have been determined before the end of the last rate period at the end of 2020 but, as the trial to determine the rates was postponed by the pandemic, the CRB has been given to June 14 to announce the new royalties, presumably to be made retroactive to January 1.
The proposals made in this proceeding vary widely. SoundExchange and its associated record labels are arguing that the rates should substantially increase, from their current level of $.0018 per performance (per song per listener – see our article here) for nonsubscription streams to rates of $.0028 per performance for 2021, with cost of living increases each succeeding year. For subscription webcasting, SoundExchange proposes that the rates increase from $.0024 to $.0031. In these cases, each party makes arguments as to what a willing buyer and willing seller would pay in a marketplace transaction for such rights. The parties introduce expert witnesses to testify as to what that rate would be, usually by looking at other similar marketplace transactions. To arrive at its proposed rates, SoundExchange introduced experts who looked at the market price for the use of music by interactive services. These prices are set by direct negotiations. From those prices, the experts attempted to calculate an appropriate adjustment to remove the value of the interactivity to determine the rates that a noninteractive service would pay. This proposed increase in royalties was, of course, countered by representatives of the services who will pay the royalties to SoundExchange.
Continue Reading Copyright Royalty Board Decision on Webcasting Royalties Expected by June 14 – What Will the Streaming Rates for 2021-2025 Be?