The Copyright and Distribution Reform Act, which replaces the much-criticized Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP), has been placed on the House suspension calendar for expected voice-vote passa

The Copyright and Distribution Reform Act, which replaces the much-criticized Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP), has been placed on the House suspension calendar for expected voice-vote passage on Wednesday (March 3).

It would then go to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

The bill was introduced last April by Rep. Lamar S. Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. Under the new bill, three administrative law judges would oversee royalty disputes. They would earn AL-1 federal wages, about $125,000 a year, for their efforts.

The new bill will ensure that old rates for compulsory licenses will apply until new rates are set; the current situation leaves a gap in the revenue stream in which royalties are paid retroactively after new rates are set. Appeal rights will be limited to parties that participate in future arbitrations.

The bill was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 24, but was held up until a decision could be made on how to handle rate challenges. Smith and his staff have settled on what they hope will be a streamlined filing process, as opposed to legal deposition and discovery methods.

The CARP was criticized after the 2001 Webcaster royalty proceeding for being expensive and lacking in focus.