The Senate passed on Oct. 6 the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Senate passed on Oct. 6 the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004.

The bill, H.R. 1417, which has already passed in the House, provides a much-needed overhaul of the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel, the process by which statutory digital royalty rates are determined for distribution to copyright holders.

The bill would replace the current part-time administrative CARP judges with a full-time panel more knowledgeable about copyright law and practice. The part-timers have been widely criticized for their judgments and for creating high legal costs that shut out small players.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., added an amendment to the bill that broadens the discovery phase for challenges.