A full year ago, the Copyright Royalty Board released its decision setting royalties for the use of sound recordings by Internet Radio webcasters (see various posts on the subject here).  As an article this week in the Boston Globe sets out, despite much talk of a post-decision settlement to lower the royalties set by the CRB that many Internet Radio operators claim will put their stations out of business, no such settlement has yet been announced.  And, in a week that brought about the transfer of the operations of one of the largest webcaster’s operations to a traditional radio company (as CBS took over operations of AOL’s Internet Radio service), appeals of the decision were filed with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  A busy week, but still no resolution of the Internet radio controversy.

Four separate appeals briefs were submitted to the Court.  One was a combined brief of the large Webcasters (represented by DiMA, the Digital Media Association) and the Small Webcasters(Accuradio, Radioio, Digitally Imported Radio, Radio Paradise), another was submitted by several commercial broadcast groups (Bonneville, the NAB and the National Religious Broadcasters Association) and a third by several noncommercial groups (including college broadcasters, NPR, and noncommercial religious broadcasters).  A final brief was submitted by Royalty Logic, a company that wants to become an alternative to SoundExchange as the collection agent for performers.  These briefs will be answered by the Department of Justice (defending the CRB and its decision before the Court) and SoundExchange.  The briefing process will continue for several months, with an oral argument to follow, quite possibly not until the Fall.  Thus, a decision in the case may well not be reached until 2009. Continue Reading A Year After the Webcasting Royalty Decision – No Settlement, Appeal Briefs Filed

The battle over performance royalties for broadcast stations seems to have been officially joined. We wrote last week about the rumors of a coalition of record companies and musicians that was reportedly forming to lobby Congress to enact a performance royalty on broadcast radio for the use of sound recordings, and the NAB’s immediate reaction, writing a letter to Congress to oppose the new royalty. Now, the press reports that the pro-royalty group has responded with their own letter to every Congressman, asking that immediate action take place to impose the royalty. Two letters in one week indicate that this summer may be a hot one for broadcasters on Capitol Hill.

The royalty being discussed would be one new to broadcast radio in the United States, but one well known to non-broadcast digital music providers such as Internet radio – as it is the same royalty that has been the subject of so much controversy since the Copyright Royalty Board released its Internet radio royalty decision in early March, more than doubling between 2005 and 2010 the royalty that those stations pay for the use of sound recordings. The royalty on the use of sound recordings (the song as recorded by a particular artist) is in addition to the royalties that are paid to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for the underlying musical composition. So, if imposed, this would be a new royalty for US terrestrial broadcasters.Continue Reading The Battle is Joined on the Performance Royalty for Over the Air Broadcasting