H.R. 2344: Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009

H.R. 2344

Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009

Date
June 9, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2344 on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 2344 was introduced on March 26, 2009, by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which held a mark-up and reported the bill by voice vote on May 20, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2344 extends the ability of large, commercial and noncommercial Webcasters to negotiate royalty rates and terms other than those determined by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) in a May, 2007, decision. Under the decision, only "small webcasters" are allowed to negotiate royalty rates with the recording industries' non-profit organization that collects and distributes royalties on digital transmissions, known as SoundExchange. H.R. 2344 would extend the authority of SoundExchange to negotiate freely with any Webcaster.

Background

Webcasting refers to media files distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology (satellite and Internet radio).  Many news organizations, including the BBC and CNN, have webcasting features.  Additionally, popular Internet radio websites such as Pandora utilize webcasting technology to broadcast music.

In March, 2007, large webcasters were forced to pay high royalties issued by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), a Library of Congress agency comprised of three Copyright Royalty Judges who determine rates and terms for copyright statutory licenses and make determinations on distribution of statutory license royalties collected by the United States Copyright Office.  The CRB decision overruled any freely made negotiations between SoundExchange and large Webcasters, and resulted in large internet radio providers to scale back services. 

On September 27, 2008, the House passed H.R. 7084, which allowed all Webcasters to voluntarily negotiate internet streaming rates through SoundExchange, the industries royalty collection agency, for a limited time.  Essentially, the September bill allowed SoundExchange, for a limited time, to reach a settlement with large Webcasters, until the negotiation window closed and the CRB ruling went back into effect.  The negotiation authority expired on February 15, 2009.  H.R. 2344 would extend the negotiation period for an additional 30 days.

Cost

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2344 would "have no effect on federal receipts or spending."