Copyright Royalty Board Denies Webcaster Rehearing Requests

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The US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has now denied motions for a rehearing by internet radio broadcasters, according to documents issued Monday.

The broadcasters are protesting a more expensive royalty schedule related to the use of master recordings.  “The parties filed various responses per our request,” the three judge panel explained.  “Having reviewed all motions, responses to those motions, and written arguments, the Judges now deny all such motions.”  The five-page document noted that internet broadcasters largely rehashed earlier arguments in their rehearing requests, or raised issues that could have been offered during earlier proceedings.  “We find, however, that none of the moving parties have made a sufficient showing of new evidence or a clear error or manifest injustice that would warrant a rehearing.”  The denial follows an original ruling in early March of this year, and a subsequent order allowing motions for a rehearing on March 20th.  Motions were filed by the Digital Media Association (DiMA), Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, Inc., Small Commercial Webcasters, National Public Radio (NPR), and various others.

The denial was greeted enthusiastically by SoundExchange, which represents the interests of major recording labels and artists.  “We are gratified that the CRB has upheld its decision,” said Michael Huppe, general counsel at SoundExchange.  Others promised a fight and rallied behind the banner of SaveNetRadio, a group committed to pushing back against the escalated rates.  “The CRB’s ill-informed decision to increase royalty fees to this unjustifiable level will quite simply bankrupt most webcasters and destroy internet radio,” said SaveNetRadio spokesperson Jake Ward. Meanwhile, the royalty board also refused to grant a stay on the payment of retroactive royalties until all legal appeals are exhausted, a decision that will generate a lump payment for a number of internet-based radio providers.   “In just about one month from today … the Copyright Royalty Board expects internet radio stations to pay millions of dollars in retroactive royalties – and this will drive most stations out of business,” said Jonathan Potter, executive director of DiMA.