The Librarian of Congress has announced the appointment of two new judges to the Copyright Royalty Board – marking a total change in the three judge board since the decision in the last webcasting royalty case (about which we wrote here). The two new judges are David Strickler and Jesse Feder. Mr. Strickler will serve through 2016, taking the position of Judge Wisnewski (who resigned about a year ago) as the economics expert required by the statute creating the Board. Mr. Stricker is currently Senior Counsel at a law firm in New Jersey, specializing in business litigation, according to his biography on the firm’s website, here. He also has a Masters Degree in economics, and is an adjunct economics professor as Brookdale College in New Jersey.

Mr. Feder takes the place of Judge Roberts, who was one of the original CRB judges and had worked in the Copyright Office in connection with the CARP process that set the first rates for webcasting back in 2002. Judge Roberts recently resigned from the Board. The position that Mr. Feder takes is required by statute to be filled by someone with Copyright experience. According to Mr. Feder’s online profile, he was the Director of International Trade and Intellectual Property at the Business Software Alliance, and previously held several supervisory positions at the Copyright Office and in the Library of Congress. His appointment, filling Judge Roberts’ seat, lasts only until 2014 (but he could be reappointed). 


Continue Reading Changes at the Copyright Royalty Board – Two New Judges Make for an All-New Board for the Upcoming Internet Radio Royalty Rate Setting Proceeding

The Copyright Office today announced an extension of time for the fling of comments in its inquiry into the possibe extension of Federal Copyright protection to pre-1972 sound recordings.  We provided a details of that proceeding here.  Internet radio operators and other digital music services that play significant numbers of pre-1972 sound recordings (particularly

In the last 5 days, the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC has held two oral arguments on appeals from decisions of the Copyright Royalty Board – one from the Board’s decision on Internet Radio Royalties and the other on the royalties applicable to satellite radio.  The decisions were different in that, in the Internet Radio decision, the appellants (including the group known as the "Small Commercial Webcasters" that I represented in the case) challenged the Board’s decision, arguing that the rates that were arrived at were too high.  In contrast, at the second argument, SoundExchange was the appellant, arguing that the Board’s decision set royalties for satellite radio  that were too low.  But, in both arguments, an overriding question was whether the Judges on the CRB were constitutionally appointed and thus whether any decisions of the Board had any validity.  While the question was expected and specifically raised in the webcasting proceeding (see our post here when that issue was first raised), the discussion at the satellite radio argument was somewhat of a surprise, as the issue had not been raised by either party, and the Appeals Court judges were not even the same judges who had heard the Internet radio argument.  Yet one of the Judges raised the issue, unprompted by any party, by asking if the Copyright Royalty Judges were properly appointed and indirectly asking if their decision would have any validity if the constitutional issue was found to exist.

Will the Court decide the constitutionality issue, and what would it mean?  No one knows for sure.  One of the issues raised by the Court in the Internet radio case was whether the issue had been raised in a timely fashion.  In both cases, the possibility of requiring additional briefing on the issue was also raised by the Court, though no such briefing has been ordered – yet.  Even if the Court was to find that the Board was not properly appointed, there are questions as to whether the existing decisions should nevertheless be allowed to stand, while blocking new decisions until a new appointment scheme is found.  Alternatively, Congress might have to intervene to resolve the whole issue and, if it was to do that, would Congress simply ratify the current decision, or would there be new considerations that would affect any Congressional resolution?  The issue raises many questions, and we’ll just have to wait to see what the resolution will be.


Continue Reading Two Court of Appeals Arguments on Sound Recording Music Royalty Rates – And the Real Question is Whether the Copyright Royalty Board is Constitutional