Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) Reveals Increased Webcasting Royalty Rates for 2021-2025

  • Save

  • Save
Washington, D.C.’s James Madison Memorial Building, which houses the U.S. Copyright Office.

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has officially revealed increased webcasting royalty rates for the 2021-2025 period.

The three-judge Copyright Royalty Board, which currently consists of Chief Judge Feder, Judge Strickler, and Judge Ruwe, just recently outlined its decision on webcasting royalty rates. This updated rate – $0.0026 per performance for commercial-webcast subscription services and $0.0021 per performance for non-subscription commercial webcasters – will remain in place from January 1st, 2021, until December 31st, 2025, except for annual cost-of-living adjustments.

“Performance,” the CRB judges reiterated, refers to “each instance in which any portion of a sound recording is publicly performed to a listener by means of a digital audio transmission.”

However, the term doesn’t cover works that don’t require a license, works that a service has licensed directly from the copyright owner, and any “incidental performance” that doesn’t “contain an entire sound recording, other than ambient music that is background at a public event” and that “makes no more than incidental use of sound recordings.” Included among the latter are “brief musical transitions in and out of commercials” and “brief performances during news” programming.

And non-commercial webcasters, for their part, will have to pay “$1000 per year for each channel or station and $0.0021 per Performance for all digital audio transmissions in excess of 159,140 ATH [aggregate tuning hours] in a month on a channel or station” during the period, the Copyright Royalty Board determined.

Furthermore, all webcasters are required to pay the collective – the 18-year-old SoundExchange, of course – “a minimum fee of $1,000 each year for each channel or station,” with this “nonrefundable” charge capped at a total of $100,000 per commercial webcaster in each calendar year. The Collective, then, must apply the fee “towards any additional royalty fees that Licensees may incur in the same year.”

Also worth noting is that the CRB will “adjust the royalty fees each year to reflect any changes occurring in the cost of living as determined by the most recent Consumer Price Index” published by the Labor Secretary prior to December 1st of the preceding year, as previously mentioned.

Licensees “must make royalty payments on a monthly basis,” the CRB also wrote, with a due date of “on or before the 45th day after the end of the month in which the Licensee made Eligible Transmissions.” Missed payments will be subject to a late fee of 1.5 percent per month “or the highest lawful rate, whichever is lower.”

Lastly, the Copyright Royalty Board stated of the webcasting-royalties increase in the announcements section of its website: “The written determination is currently being reviewed by the parties to the proceeding to determine which portions, if any, contain confidential information that must be redacted from the version that will be released to the public.”

Late last month, songwriters called for greater mechanical-rate transparency from the Copyright Royalty Board, specifically due to “deep concerns” about the “notice of settlement in principle” filed before the CRB by the major labels and the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) earlier this year.