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).
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