Meeting the needs of Non-commercial Radio
Following Congressional action in 1995 (the “DPRA”) and 1998 (the “DMCA”) to create sound recording performance royalties for digital transmissions of music (i.e., the Internet), noncommercial religious stations feared that this dynamic new streaming medium for expanding their ministries could be cut off due to out-of-control royalty obligations. In 2000, when the first Webcaster rate-setting proceeding was scheduled before the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (the “C.A.R.P.”), a group of noncommercial radio operators formed a subcommittee under the umbrella of the NRBMLC in order to participate in the proceeding. Since that time, the NRBNMLC was a full party to a second Webcaster proceeding in 2005-2006.
Additionally, every five years new noncommercial musical work royalty rates are negotiated with Performance Right Organizations (P.R.O.s) ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Once the parties arrive at an agreement, it is approved by the Copyright Royalty Board (the “CRB”), a government-appointed rate-setting panel. If the parties cannot agree, the CRB oversees a proceeding that is a full litigation. The cost of opposing a rate increase before the CRB can be prohibitively expensive, making the cost of performance royalty rate increases appear small by comparison. In 2007, the NRBNMLC negotiating team successfully avoided a nearly 20-fold rate increase with the P.R.O.s that was being demanded by songwriters, but was forced to concede a still unusually large rate increase rather than litigate rates before the CRB.