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Radio Broadcasters Lose Webcast Royalty Appeal; NAB Mulling Its Options

Radio Broadcasters Lose Webcast Royalty Appeal; NAB Mulling Its Options

Radio broadcasters who simulcast their programming over the Internet were dealt a blow in court last Friday. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia rejected an appeal of the U.S. Copyright Office’s determination that such simulcasting stations are subject to digital sound recording copyright royalties.
The appeal was brought by several radio group owners and the NAB. Broadcasters have insisted from the start that the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 specifically exempted them.
“We are examining our options,” said NAB Senior Vice President Dennis Wharton. “We feel the decision runs counter to the law.”
The only litigation step left to broadcasters is the U.S. Supreme Court, although another path would be to ask lawmakers to clarify broadcasters’ exclusion from such Webcast royalties through legislation.
The recording industry, winners in the court decision, were decidedly upbeat.
“We applaud the court’s ruling, affirming our view of the law that artists and record companies should be fairly compensated for the use of their music on the Internet,” said RIAA President Cary Sherman.
“In addition, we are pleased that we have already reached an agreement on royalty rates with the broadcasters through marketplace negotiations and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”