Saturday, January 17, 2009

College Radio Concerns about Proposal for Stringent Record-Keeping Requirements for Webcasters

You may have missed the news (as I did), since it came out on December 30th, but there's a new proposal by the Copyright Royalty Board that will require webcasters (including college radio stations) to report every single song that they play to SoundExchange. According to PC Magazine:

"CRB wants any entity that pays royalties under sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act, including Internet radio, satellite radio, digital cable radio, and any other radio-like services delivered by digital means to report every single song they play on the air to SoundExchange, which governs the music industry's royalty rates. Under current rules established in 2004, they are only required to report their playlists for two weeks every quarter."

Yesterday CBI (College Broadcasters, Inc.) and Harvard station WHRB issued a press release expressing concern about the Copyright Royalty Board's (CRB) timing in releasing proposed changes to webcasting record-keeping and reporting requirements. CBI and WHRB are asking the CRB for additional time "to collect data and submit comments" about the proposed changes, which will have a big impact on college radio stations.

According to the CBI/WHRB
press release:

"Without warning, on December 30, 2008, while most college students were on break, the CRB issued a proposal to change the current rules that apply to all webcasters that use copyrighted recordings. While the proceedings have been underway for six years, the officials only allowed 30 days for the submission of comments from interested parties before making a final ruling which could stand for several decades.

Furthermore, for many of the student stations most affected by the new rules, students would be away on break for most of the 30 day comment window.
Warren Kozireski, president of CBI and general manager of WBSU 89.1 The Point, at SUNY Brockport, said 'The proposal contains rule changes that would adversely affect hundreds of student stations across the nation, yet the CRB issued the proposal during winter break and provided us with only 30 days to respond. That is simply not enough time to gather information from stations and provide the CRB with ample information to make informed decisions.'"

The nature of college radio programming (huge playlists, vinyl catalogs, obscure recordings, DJ controlled playlists) will no doubt make record-keeping and tracking even more cumbersome. In quoting Michael Papish, legal and policy advisor for WHRB, the press release states:

"'For many stations like WHRB which have deep catalogs and feature programming by DJs that still rely heavily on vinyl media, these new regulations could prove extremely difficult...'"

An article on CBI's website provides more information about these proposed changes. According to the piece:

...The proposed rules would require stations to submit reports of every song played (that is not exempt) for each day of the year. This is known as 'census reporting'. The current requirement is to keep data for only 14 days per calendar quarter.

...The proposed rules would require reports of use be submitted on or before the 45th day following the close of each calendar month...the current rules do not include a deadline for the submission of a report of use.

...The proposed rules would require stations to report 'actual performances' of each song instead of ATH [aggregate tuning hours]. In other words, for each song played, stations would need to report the total number of devices connected to the server for each and every song played, regardless of duration..."

Well, my head is certainly swimming as I try to figure out how college radio stations will tally this information. CBI is encouraging college radio station to take a close look at these proposed regulations. They are hoping that the Copyright Review Board will extend the comment period beyond January 30th, so that stations have more time to digest all of this information and respond accordingly. Additionally, CBI encourages college radio stations to submit feedback and comments for the Copyright Review Board through CBI in order to create a stronger, more unified case. CBI writes:

"...we encourage stations to submit comments before the CRB, but we are asking stations to hold off on sending rash responses that would either hurt our position or be legally impermissable. In order to aid stations in making legally permissable responses to the request for comments, CBI will work with stations in crafting comments. In addition, CBI will likely include station submissions in their own comments. This offer of assistance is available to all college stations, whether or not they are currently members of CBI or currently webcasting. We are particularly interested in helping stations that are not webcasting due to the recordkeeping obligations."

Stations planning to send comments to the Copyright Review Board, can get assistance from CBI by emailing

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