noncommercial webcasters royalties

The actions and reactions in response to the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision from two weeks ago continue to roll in as the ramifications of the decision sink in. In the days before Christmas, two announcements were made that warrant note. One was a decision of the CRB itself, correcting the rates and terms that it released just the week before – with some sighs of relief being heard from certain high school and university stations. The other was the realization that there were many issues covered by Webcaster Settlement Act agreements from 2009 that were not reflected in the CRB decision and may have impact on significant portions of the webcasting industry.

First, the correction. On Christmas Eve, the CRB issued a revised version of the rates and terms that will apply in 2016 (you can find the revision here). It appears that there were some formatting errors that were corrected, and a number of definitions that had been included in the initial release were deleted – apparently as they referred to terms that were no longer used in the current royalty rates. For instance, a number of definitions relating to “broadcasters” and “broadcaster webcasting” were excluded. These were no longer necessary as broadcasters are not treated any differently than other commercial webcasters under the new royalties. One place where the deletion of a definition resulted in a substantive change was what appeared to be an unintentional inclusion in the initial release of the definition of an “educational webcaster.”  The definition seemingly applied only to those webcasters that received CPB funding and transmitted solely noncommercial radio programs from a terrestrial radio station. That definition would have excluded many webcasters affiliated with schools but without an FCC license from a settlement agreement entered into by the Collegiate Broadcasting Association and SoundExchange – a settlement meant to cover school webcasters providing for a $500 a year royalty for streaming of less than 159,140 aggregate tuning hours per month (and record-keeping relief for many webcasters covered by that arrangement). That “educational webcaster” definition was excluded in the revision released last week – leaving the CBI settlement in place covering webcasters affiliated with educational institutions, to the relief of many educational webcasters.
Continue Reading Webcasting Royalty Decision Developments – Revised Rates and Terms from the CRB, Issues about Performance Complement and Small Webcasters

Noncommercial webcasters are often forgotten in the discussion of the current proceeding to set Internet radio sound recording royalties. But, along with the royalties for commercial webcasters (we wrote about the proposed commercial rates here), the current Copyright Royalty Board proceeding will also set the rates for noncommercial webcasters.  Various proposals for noncommercial royalties have been submitted to the Judges.  In fact, one proposed settlement agreement between SoundExchange and CBI (a group that represents college radio stations) has been submitted to the Judges, and last week that proposed settlement was published in the Federal Register, with a request for comments by November 26.  There are other proposals for noncommercial rates that were submitted by other parties, and we talk about those below. 

Setting rates for noncommercial webcasters is not easy.  Colleges and other schools, public radio and religious organizations usually are not motivated by the kinds of commercial considerations that give rise to evidence submitted under the “willing buyer willing seller” standard applicable to all CRB webcasting royalty decisions.  Thus, the noncommercial rates are often set as an afterthought.  In fact, perhaps because noncommercial rates have been such an afterthought, it has been these rates that have led to the greatest number of appellate issues for the CRB.  The decision on noncommercial rates from the 2006 proceeding was just issued by the Judges after an appellate court remand.  In that decision, the Board upheld the decision from the 2006 case setting the minimum fee for noncommercial broadcasters at $500 for the 2006-2010 proceeding – a decision reached after a remand of the case from the Court of Appeals to the Board following an appeal by IBS, another group of noncommercial broadcasters associated with colleges and other schools.  But let’s look at the proposals for the upcoming case, and compare them to the rates currently in effect.
Continue Reading Noncommercial Webcasters Royalty Rate Proposals for 2016-2020