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Court rules that radio must pay online fees - Broadcasting & Cable

Court rules that radio must pay online fees

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As broadcasters begin a drawn-out fight with record companies over webcasting
royalty fees, a federal district court in Pennsylvania on Thursday backed a
decision by the U.S. Copyright Office last December that found such fees are in
order.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that
Congress clearly intended radio broadcasters to pay royalty fees to record
companies if they are streaming their signals over the Internet.

'The policy of protecting copyright holders from the dangers of reduced sales
from the enhanced copying capabilities of digital transmissions over the
Internet simply adds even more support to the already convincing evidence that
Congress did not intended to exempt AM/FM webcasters,' wrote Judge J. Berle
Schiller.

Broadcasters, including the National Association of Broadcasters and
Bonneville International Corp., sued the U.S. Copyright Office late last
year.

Broadcasters object to the decision, saying they already pay one set of fees
to music publishers BMI and ASCAP that amount to more than $300 million
annually.

'Any additional fees to compensate record companies would be unfair and
unreasonable,' said NAB President Eddie Fritts.

He also said broadcasters are 'reviewing our options,' which include
appealing the case to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia or
accepting the decision.

Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America,
praised the ruling. 'We are pleased the court upheld the rights of artists and
record companies. We now look forward to working with the broadcasters for a
smooth transition into this marketplace.'

The Copyright Office this week began six week of hearings that will help an
arbitration determine what the royalty fees will be.

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