Will Webcasting Royalties See a Big Shift?

Broadcast legal beagles are keeping their eyes on “Web IV.” That’s shorthand for the next round of copyright royalty rate-setting for certain webcasters, including most broadcasters, by the Copyright Royalty Board.

Kevin Goldberg of law firm Fletcher Heald & Hildreth has summarized the issue in a helpful blog post. He notes that this next round of rate-setting won’t take effect for two years (and run into 2020), but the CRB has just posted a notice inviting public participation. He said most broadcasters engaged in webcasting are affected under the category of “eligible nonsubscription services.”

Importantly, Goldberg thinks the board “may be looking to take rate calculations in a different direction,” because the questions it set out for public comment seem to him to indicate a predisposition toward a model based on “percentage of revenue.” His post summarizes the outcome of previous rounds, including the important “Web II” round and the various webcaster agreements that resulted from it, which are built around a “per-performance calculation.”

Goldberg believes the wording of the CRB’s invitation “clearly signals a potential major shift,” and he further notes that Congress could complicate things with legislation setting out a new standard for Internet royalty rates. “There’s a lot to watch for here,” he concludes.

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