Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Wont Someone Please Think of the Children Webcasters!"

With all the elections, and ClusterF@#K to the Poor House, and figuring out which are the real Americans and which are the fake Americans - the 110th Congress sure found time to get busy with a lot of new legislation this fall.

This story begins with a fish - a CARP more precisely. Now given the nature of the past election, one would have thought that any discussion of fish would necessarily either involve Alaskan Salmon, or putting lipstick on a pig. Turns out - in the words of VPWannaBe Sarah Palin, PresWannaBe Barack Obama, and PresWannaBe John McCain - "You Can Put Lipstick on a Bad Music Royalty Deal, But It's Still a Pig."

The Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) had apparently agreed to a music royalty rate agreement for webcasters that was a pig, and would have put webcasters in the Poor House. Therefore, in the spirit of massive bailouts, Rep. Jay Inslee introduced the Webcaster Settlement Act which overrides the CARP decision, and allows the webcasters and the copyright owners to negotiate a new deal.

Tis the season for industry bailouts - and this one had the support of both sides of the negotiating table - the webcasters and SoundExchange, which represents the copyright owners. But in a democracy, every piece of legislation has to be opposed by somebody, so the National Association of Broadcasters volunteered to oppose it. But after a few smoke filled, back room deals to appease the opposition, the NAB relented and the legislation went through unanimously. It was sent to Still-President Bush and was signed into law on October 16.

Now everyone is happy (more or less):

  • Inslee Internet Radio Bill Passes Senate Press Release : October 1, 2008 “It's a true delight to pass a bill which will allow for the survival of webcasting. Internet radio is an integral part of many of my constituents' daily lives and this bill will keep it that way."

  • DiMA Thanks Congress for Passing Webcasters Settlement Act . “On behalf of DiMA and our Internet radio members, I want to thank Congress for acting quickly to pass the Webcaster Settlement Act. This legislation will enable DiMA and our member companies, and all Internet radio services, to continue negotiating royalty rates with SoundExchange for the years 2005-2015." "We express great thanks to Senators Wyden and Brownback, and Representatives Inslee and Manzullo for sponsoring the Webcaster Settlement Act and also being great leaders of the Internet Radio Equality Act.

  • Press Release SoundExchange Welcomes Senate Passage of Webcaster Settlement Act , (Oct. 1, 2008) "The bill was needed to give the parties more time to negotiate while Congress is out of session and allow any agreements to take effect. Though there has been progress in the talks, SoundExchange expressed a note of caution because there is no deal yet with large webcasters although an agreement in principle with National Public Radio had already been announced. “We are hopeful, but we've been close at other times during the past 18 months,” said John Simson, Executive Director of SoundExchange. “Certainly, Congressman Howard Berman's role as facilitator has helped tremendously in moving the ball forward. My hope is that we can quickly get back to the table and capitalize on the momentum."
  • Nab Statement On Senate Passage Of Webcaster Settlement Act , (Oct. 1, 2008) "NAB looks forward to sitting down quickly with SoundExchange to craft equitable streaming rates that enhance the online music experience and expose more artists to our listeners."

The law itself is relatively simple. According to the Congressional Reports Summary:

“Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 - Allows a receiving agent (designated by the Librarian of Congress to collect royalties that ultimately are disbursed to sound recording copyright owners and performers) to enter into agreements with webcasters that establish royalty terms for the performance of sound recordings over the Internet. Provides that such agreements, which may be effective for a period of up to 11 years following January 1, 2005, are to be binding on all copyright owners of sound recordings and other persons entitled to payment, in lieu of any determination of compulsory license rates by the Copyright Royalty Judges.

Terminates the authority to negotiate settlement agreements under this Act on February 15, 2009.

Declares that nothing in this Act (or any agreement entered into under this Act) shall be taken into account by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in its review of the May 1, 2007 determination of royalty rates by the Copyright Royalty Judges.”

Text of the legislation:

2d Session
H. R. 7084|

To amend section 114 of title 17, United States Code, to provide for agreements for the reproduction and performance of sound recordings by webcasters.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008'.


Section 114(f)(5) of title 17, United States Code, is amended--

(1) in subparagraph (A)--

(A) by striking `small commercial' each place it appears and inserting `commercial';

(B) by striking `during the period beginning on October 28, 1998, and ending on December 31, 2004' and inserting `for a period of not more than 11 years beginning on January 1, 2005';

(C) by striking `a copyright arbitration royalty panel or decision by the Librarian of Congress' and inserting `the Copyright Royalty Judges'; and

(D) in the second sentence, by striking `webcasters shall include' and inserting `webcasters may include';

(2) in subparagraph (B), by striking `small commercial' and inserting `commercial';

(3) in subparagraph (C)--

(A) by striking `Librarian of Congress' and inserting `Copyright Royalty Judges';

(B) by striking `small webcasters' and inserting `webcasters'; and

(C) by adding at the end the following: `This subparagraph shall not apply to the extent that the receiving agent and a webcaster that is party to an agreement entered into pursuant to subparagraph (A) expressly authorize the submission of the agreement in a proceeding under this subsection.';

(4) in subparagraph (D)--

(A) by striking `the Small Webcasters Settlement Act of 2002' and inserting `the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008' ; and

(B) by striking `Librarian of Congress of July 8, 2002' and inserting `Copyright Royalty Judges of May 1, 2007'; and

(5) in subparagraph (F), by striking `December 15, 2002' and all that follows through `2003' and inserting `February 15, 2009'.

Passed the House of Representatives September 27, 2008.




2d Session

H. R. 7084


To amend section 114 of title 17, United States Code, to provide for agreements for the reproduction and performance of sound recordings by webcasters.


Title: To amend section 114 of title 17, United States Code, to provide for agreements for the reproduction and performance of sound recordings by webcasters.
Sponsor: Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] (introduced 9/25/2008) Cosponsors (4)
Related Bills: S.3649
Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 110-435 [GPO: Text , PDF ]

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