Judges on the Copyright Royalty Board sought the register’s opinion on the admissibility of specific licensing agreements Pandora already has in place with Merlin Network, an indie label consortium, to help determine webcasting royalty rates for the next five years.
The register’s decision “does not bar CRJs [Copyright Royalty Judges] from considering directly negotiated license agreements,” according to the opinion.
“The decision affirms the admissibility of Pandora’s agreement with Merlin as a valid benchmark going forward,” Pandora stated in a press release.
Pandora, iHeartMedia, the National Association of Broadcasters and other webcasting parties have said decreased licensing rates, as reflected in current direct license agreements, should be considered by the CRB when establishing the new rates.
SoundExchange, the entity responsible for collecting music recording royalties and distributing them to copyright owners, has been arguing before the CRB for higher royalty rates.
The current CRB proceeding will determine what agreement replaces existing royalty rates and terms applicable to webcasters under terms of the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009. The “Webcasting IV” proceeding will determine music licensing rates for the 2016–2020 period.
The CRB is expected to issue a ruling no later than Dec. 16, 2015, according to Pandora.