The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Copyright Royalty Board is constitutional. The decision ends for now a long-running controversy over the legitimacy of the CRB, which sets royalty rates that webcasters pay to copyright owners– rates that webcasters see as excessively high and a threat to the industry.
The CRB is comprised of three judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress. It meets once every five years to establish the royalty rates that webcasters must pay copyright owners when using their music on the Internet. In the past, the rates set by the CRB were decried by webcasters as excessive, which ultimately led to the passage of the Webcasters Settlement Acts of 2008 and 2009. Pursuant to these statutes, several classes of webcasters, including small commercial webcasters, microcasters, and noncommercial webcasters, have been able to negotiate settlement agreements with SoundExchange, which represents the copyright holders, and agree to rates that, while still unpopular with webcasters, are nonetheless lower than those set by the CRB.