Copyright Office May Have Just Added New Royalties For Webcasts

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

Well, this is just downright disturbing. Jon Healy has a quick summary of a totally unexpected and unnecessary proposed rulemaking from the Copyright Office that could add additional royalties that webcasters would need to pay (on top of the already onerous webcasting rates). Basically, the Copyright Office had been asked to decide on a totally different question concerning royalties back in 2000. That issue isn’t even in question any more, as the two sides had already worked out their differences, and the Copyright Office didn’t do much to give an official answer on that question anyway.

Instead, it came up with an idea out of the blue that music publishers are entitled to an additional mechanical royalty for non-interactive streams (e.g., webcasts, satellite radio, etc.). As Healy explains, this makes no sense and seems to go against previous agreements on these types of royalties. Mechanical royalties are supposed to be for actual copies of the music. Non-interactive streams are basically the same as radio — which requires performance royalties, but not mechanical royalties.

This reminds me of the column by Rasmus Fleischer we wrote about a little while ago, where he noted how silly copyright law can get with all these different royalty rates that were designed for a different time. The borderlines between radio, streams, downloads, recordings and all other ways of accessing and hearing music are blending together, and trying to match the old rights to the new ways that people interact with music just leads to more problems — such as multiple levels of royalties all being heaped upon the same single action, making it effectively uneconomical to actually do the most natural thing with music: play it online.

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Comments on “Copyright Office May Have Just Added New Royalties For Webcasts”

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Willton says:

Compulsory licensing is outdated

Compulsory licensing, like mechanical licences and the like, was basically a regime that was designed to further anti-trust concerns. In this day and age, those concerns don’t carry much weight anymore. The compulsory licensing regime should be scrapped; copyright holders should be able to assert their rights in bargains for exchange.

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