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CRB denies DiMA request over "interactive" clarification

Posted on: 02/06/2008

A budding fight over one variety of songwriter royalty appears to already have been settled, as the Copyright Royalty Board decided yesterday to deny a request by the Digital Media Association over mechanical royalties.

DiMA had recently requested a clarification regarding royalties due for on-demand and interactive streaming services. The inquiry, which DiMA moved to be considered by Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters, regarded an obligation by these services to pay both performance as well as mechanical royalties for the music they stream. [Legally speaking, the question was whether an interactive stream qualifies as a digital phonorecord delivery (DPD).]

Billboard writes that the CRB judges found “that there is no definition of ‘interactive’ in the Copyright Act, and the parties did not all agree to its meaning.” The judges ruled that whether a transmission is interactive is a factual question and not a legal one, and therefore the request for legal clarification was denied.

Publishers view the decision as a victory against DiMA and the RIAA, who they believed were attempting to cut songwriters out of due royalty payments [previous RAIN coverage here].

Eliot Van Buskirk, writing at Wired’s Listening Post blog about the decision, says that, “Current rate proposals conflate [interactive and on-demand streams] into a single entity, which could mean that webcasters who offer streams that can be influenced by the user would have to pay the same rates owed by on-demand services.”



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