College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI) is reporting that they’ve achieved an important milestone after their settlement with SoundExchange on copyright royalty fees for music played by educational radio webcasters was preliminarily adopted by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). CRB’s “Initial Determination of Rates and Terms” (PDF) was released on December 14 and outlines the payment terms for various types of webcasters. According to CBI (PDF),
“The rates and terms of the settlement for educational stations maintain the current $500 minimum annual fee, below a threshold listening level, not available to non‐student stations, providing these stations a large degree of rate certainty for the next five years.”
Another important provision in this agreement is an option for college radio stations with small audiences to pay a proxy fee of $100 in place of submitting “reports of use of sound recordings” to SoundExchange. CBI states that,
“Under the agreement, the student stations with the smallest audiences are eligible to pay a proxy fee in lieu of collecting, organizing and reporting to SoundExchange a large amount of data that these stations might have trouble producing.”
Although CBI has expressed satisfaction with these fees, included in the proceedings were dissenting opinions from another college radio advocacy organization, Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS). IBS claims that even the $500 minimum annual fee would be difficult for some of its member stations to afford and they argue that a rate structure should be in place to acknowledge the situations of college radio stations with tiny audiences. Those arguments were rejected by the CRB and the rates established in the CBI/SoundExchange proposal were adopted for the period 2011-2015.
Webcasting rates have been a source of great debate (as evidenced by Internet Radio’s Day of Silence, trend #7 in our “Decade’s Most Important Radio Trends” series last year) and it’s nice to see that the CRB has acknowledged that small college radio stations should not have to face the same reporting and cost burdens as their commercial radio counterparts.
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