In January, the Copyright Royalty Board asked for comments as to whether it should require "census reporting" of all sound recordings that are used by a digital service subject to the statutory royalty. This would replace the current requirement that services need only report on the sound recordings used for two weeks every calender quarter. Most of the comments that were filed dealt with the difficulties of certain classes of webcasters – particularly small webcasters and certain broadcasters – in keeping full census reports of every song that is played by a service, and how many people heard each song. In a Notice of Inquiry published in the Federal Register today, the CRB asked for further information about the cost and difficulties of such reporting. Comments on the Notice are due on May 26, 2009, and replies on June 8.
The real issues, as identified by the CRB, were raised by smaller entities that argued that they do not have the ability to track performances. Especially problematic are stations that have on-air announcers who pick the music that they want to play in real time, and don’t run their programming through any sort of automation system or music scheduling software. Live DJs playing music that they want is a hallmark of college radio, but one that creates problems for tracking performances. How can a DJ’s on-the-fly selection of music be converted to the nice, neat computer spreadsheets required by SoundExchange for the Reports of Use of music played?