This advisory is directed to television stations with locally-produced programming whose signals were carried by at least one cable system located outside the station’s local service area or by a satellite provider that provided service to at least one viewer outside the station’s local service area during 2020. These stations may be eligible to file royalty claims for compensation with the United States Copyright Royalty Board. These filings are due by August 2, 2021.
Under the federal Copyright Act, cable systems and satellite operators must pay license royalties to carry distant TV signals on their systems. Ultimately, the Copyright Royalty Board divides the royalties among those copyright owners who claim shares of the royalty fund. Stations that do not file claims by August 2, 2021 will not be able to collect royalties for carriage of their signals during 2020. While claims are typically due July 31, that date falls on a Saturday this year. Stations will therefore have until the first business day in August to file.
In order to file a cable royalty claim, a television station must have aired locally-produced programming of its own and had its signal carried outside of its local service area by at least one cable system in 2020. Television stations with locally-produced programming whose signals were delivered to subscribers located outside the station’s Designated Market Area in 2020 by a satellite provider are also eligible to file royalty claims. A station’s distant signal status should be evaluated and confirmed by communications counsel.
Cable and satellite claim forms can no longer be filed in paper form through mail or courier, and instead must be filed electronically via eCRB, the Copyright Royalty Board’s online filing system. Prior to filing electronically, claimants or their authorized representatives must register for an eCRB account. First-time electronic filers should register for an account as soon as possible, as there is a multiple day waiting period between initial registration and when a user may submit claims. Also, because accounts can become locked due to inactivity, filers who already have an eCRB account should confirm that their login credentials still work.
To submit claims, stations are required to supply the name and address of the filer and of the copyright owner, and must provide a general statement as to the nature of the copyrighted work (e.g., local news, sports broadcasts, specials, or other station-produced programming). Claims must be submitted by 11:59 pm ET on August 2, and claimants should keep copies of all submissions and confirmations of delivery.
Please contact any of the group’s attorneys for assistance in determining whether your station qualifies to make a claim and in filing the claim itself.
A PDF version of this article can be found here.