On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit released an opinion upholding the Copyright Royalty Board’s “Web IV” music streaming rates for years 2016-2020. SoundExchange caused the ruckus in this one, raising a number of arguments in an attempt to upend the CRB-established rates. All of SoundExchange’s complaints were rejected by the court. For a quick analysis on what this means to you we turned to broadcast attorney John Garziglia.
(By John Garziglia) This DC Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision upholds the webcasting rate determinations made by the Copyright Royalty Board.
The case concerned the CRB’s fourth rate-setting proceeding for webcasters, which set the rates and terms of the statutory license for 2016 to 2020. The CRB held a six-week hearing with 660 exhibits consisting of more than 12,000 pages of documents, and the oral testimony of 47 witnesses. Fifteen parties participated in the rate-setting proceeding, including the two parties who brought the appeal: SoundExchange, Inc., and George Johnson (dba GEO Music), an independent singer/songwriter.
The underlying CRB decision which was upheld by the Court of Appeals set webcasting rates for (i) ad-based commercial non-interactive webcaster services, and (ii) subscription-based commercial non-interactive webcaster services. The CRB set the statutory royalty rate for ad-based commercial non-interactive webcasters at $0.0017 per song performance for 2016, to be adjusted in later years to account for inflation. The CRB set the statutory royalty rate for subscription-based commercial non-interactive webcasters at $0.0022 per song performance for 2016, to be adjusted in ensuing years to account for inflation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals decision upheld every aspect of the CRB’s rate determinations. Thus, absent a further appeal or rehearing which is highly unlikely, radio broadcasters who engage in non-interactive streaming now have a certainty of what the SoundExchange rate for streaming will be through 2020.
John Garziglia is a communications attorney at Womble Bond Dickinson and can be reached at (202) 857-4455 or [email protected]