NPR Internet royalties

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

As the clock ticks down to the July 15 effective date of the royalty rates for Internet Radio as determined by the Copyright Royalty Board, webcasters held a Day of Silence today, June 26, to demonstrate to listeners what may well happen if the rates go into effect, and to galvanize their listeners to ask Congress for relief. With the Day of Silence bringing publicity to the Congressional efforts to put the webcasting royalties on hold and to change the standard applied by the Copyright Royalty Board so that it is not focused completely on a hypothetical "willing buyer, willing seller" model, it’s worth looking at some of the other issues that have arisen in the royalty battle in the last few days – including further pleadings filed in connection with the Motion for Stay currently pending in the US Court of Appeals, and the Congressional hearing that will occur on Thursday. 

As we’ve written before, there is currently pending a Motion for Stay of the CRB decision which was submitted jointly by the large and small webcasters and NPR.  Last week, the Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the Copyright Royalty Board to defend the royalty decision, and SoundExchange, each filed oppositions to the Motion for Stay. Each raised many of the same arguments. First, they argued that the large webcasters had procedurally forfeited their rights to challenge the question of the $500 per channel minimum fee by not raising their objection early enough in the CRB proceeding. The DOJ also argued that the damage from the minimum fee was speculative as there was no way to know how that minimum fee would be interpreted. The DOJ contended that, as it was unclear that SoundExchange would prevail on any claim that those Internet Radio services that produced a unique stream for each listener would have to pay $500 for each such stream, the question might end up in a lawsuit – but wouldn’t inevitably lead to the irreparable harm that is necessary for a stay to be issued.


Continue Reading A Day of Silence, A Motion for Stay, and A Congressional Hearing – As the Internet Radio Clock Ticks Down