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Webcast Royalty Rates Set for College, Community & Public Stations

The Copyright Royalty Board recently released two orders that affect community and college radio stations. The CRB sets the royalty rates that webcasters pay for the right to play recorded music. Royalties are paid to SoundExchange, a non-profit group that distributes payments to musicians and record labels. These payments only apply to online streaming broadcasts, not terrestrial over-the-air broadcasts.

First, the CRB approved a settlement between College Broadcasters Inc and SoundExchange which pretty much leaves the current rates in place. It sets a minimum annual fee of $500 for each channel (online stream) for up to 159,140 aggregate tuning hours (ATH). The new deal gives stations the ability to opt out of filing “reports of use” of every song played if a station streams less than 80,000 aggregate tuning hours (ATH) per month, and increase of 35,000 over the previous standard. ATH is the count of how many hours were streamed to individual (listeners). For example, if fifty listeners each listened for 20 hours, then the ATH is 1,000.

The CBI deal applies only to high school or college stations that are federal tax-exempt, substantially operated by students, and do not also qualify as a public broadcaster.

Community and public stations qualify for rates that remain substantially unchanged from those paid in the years 2011–2015, as negotiated by public radio groups. These stations must be an affiliate of NPR, American Public Media, PRI or PRX, or a member of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Stations can expect to be notified of details by the broadcast organizations they are affiliated with.

The CommLawBlog has the full rundown of these deals, along with what’s going on with the royalty rates that will be applied to other web casters.


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