Streaming Radio Royalty Battle Continues, Motions Filed

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The ongoing battle over future royalty rate structures related to internet radio has been a contentious issue for years. The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has been at the center of the debate, as it is responsible for setting rates for the non-interactive streaming of recorded music.

The latest flare-up in this battle comes ahead of a possible rehearing by the CRB, which had granted motions for reconsideration less than two weeks ago. NPR, one of the major players in the internet radio industry, has offered its plea for a public rehearing where they can provide supplemental testimony and oral argument of its motion, on the public record. But SoundExchange, which represents the interests of major recording labels, has questioned the merits of such a request, stating that no new material facts or fresh evidence have suddenly materialized to give the CRB valid reason to revisit its decision.

The CRB had passed a royalty structure for the non-interactive streaming of recorded music in early March, which replaced earlier, per-revenue calculations with per-play penny rates. This schedule was deemed outlandish by internet webcasters, who asserted that the rates would drive a large number of smaller broadcasters out of business. A broad number of internet webcasters, including National Public Radio (NPR) and Clear Channel Radio, rallied heavily against the measures, part of a much broader groundswell.

In response to the outcry, the CRB granted the motions, an initial victory for broadcasters. However, SoundExchange, a staunch defender of the royalty structure, predicted that the original ruling would stand. “Given the extensive hearings, the large body of evidence, and the thoroughness with which the Judges analyzed the entire case, we fully expect the judges to stand by their initial ruling,” said SoundExchange general counsel Michael Huppe.

The issue at hand is that the royalty rates set by the CRB are largely determined by the interests of major recording labels, rather than the interests of internet radio broadcasters. The rates set by the CRB are often seen as too high for smaller broadcasters to afford, which could result in the closure of many internet radio stations. This, in turn, could have a negative impact on the music industry as a whole, as internet radio has become an increasingly important platform for promoting new artists and breaking new music.

It is important to note that the battle over internet radio royalties is not a new one. In fact, it has been raging for over a decade. In 2007, the CRB set rates that were so high that internet radio stations faced the possibility of shutting down. This led to massive protests by internet radio broadcasters and their listeners, who argued that the rates were unfair and would stifle innovation in the industry.

Fortunately, the protests were successful, and the CRB eventually lowered the rates. However, the battle has continued to rage on, with internet radio broadcasters and their advocates arguing that the rates are still too high and that they are being unfairly targeted by the recording industry.

As the battle over internet radio royalties continues, it is clear that there are no easy answers. The interests of internet radio broadcasters and major recording labels are often at odds, and finding a solution that satisfies both parties is a difficult task. However, it is important that all stakeholders work together to find a solution that is fair, reasonable, and sustainable for everyone involved.