The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) just announced new webcasting rates for 2016 through 2020. These are the rates services like Pandora and iHeartRadio will pay for their online streams. With the music business continuing its seemingly inexorable shift to streaming, the CRB's decision is incredibly important to a wide range of companies and people. But it's a complicated subject. So here are answers to some common questions that will help Billboard readers wade through the issue.
What just happened?
The Copyright Royalty Board has announced the webcasting rates for 2016 through 2020. The rate proceeding was called "Webcasting IV" (three rate proceedings came before it). These are statutory rates to be paid by eligible digital music services that use the compulsory license made available under the Copyright Act. A good introduction to webcaster royalties can be found here.
What is the Copyright Royalty Board?
Copyright Royalty Board is part of the U.S. Library of Congress and it consists of three Copyright Royalty Board judges who determine royalty rates for statutory licenses as provided by the U.S. Copyright Royalty and Reform Act of 2004.
Why is the Copyright Royalty Board Necessary?
The CRB is mandated by statute to set rates and typically encourages both music licensors and licensees to negotiate on rate settlements. But, more often than not, a consensus can't be reached and so a rate trial proceeds, wherein all interested parties make their cases through statements and testimony. After listening to testimony, the Judges make a determination as to what the statutory royalty rates will be for the upcoming five-year period.