1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Copyright Royalty Board reference cheers indie labels

The U.S. Register of Copyrights has delivered her Memorandum Opinion in response to a “novel material question of law” referred to her on September 11, 2015 by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) who will be setting royalty rates for the period of 2016-2020. 

The question asked whether the Board would be prohibited by the governing statutes from setting rates and terms that may differ across different types of categories of licensors – in essence, whether they can set statutory webcasting royalty rates that vary depending on the identity or category of the record company that owns the recordings performed by a webcaster.

The Register of Copyrights concluded that the question was not properly referred to the Copyright Office for consideration, and therefore she could not offer an opinion on the question of differentiated rates for licensors; BUT and its a big 'but', the Register further stated that because all participants in the Webcasting IV proceeding had assumed a non-differentiated rate structure for licensors, that is the only reasonable outcome in the Web IV proceeding, effectively dismissing calls from the major record labels, Sony and Universal, for a variable royalty rate for internet radio play in their favour, a prospect that had horrified the indie labels

Pandora supports a uniform rate structure for all musicians, said Dave Grimaldi, director of public affairs at Pandora, adding: “We look forward to the certainty the CRB's December decision will bring to the music industry, particularly as Pandora continues to improve our partnerships with music makers.” This next big statutory licensing decision in the US for the 2016-2020 per-stream rate, the Web IV rate,  is expected in December.

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