Oxenford: SiriusXM's direct licensing deals could affect future CRB Internet radio rulings

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Issue Date: 
Mar 28 2012 - 12:45pm

From Issue:

David OxenfordThe outcome of SiriusXM's lawsuit against SoundExchange and A2IM may be "very important to the future of digital music" -- webcasters included -- according to industry attorney and Davis Wright Tremaine partner David Oxenford (pictured).

The direct licenses SiriusXM has been trying to obtain could impact future CRB rulings, Oxenford writes, as such deals "between music users and rights holders are traditionally the best evidence of the value of music." That's a good reason why SoundExchange and A2IM would oppose such direct deals, says Oxenford.

He writes:

"Were SiriusXM to be successful in its suit, and if it is in fact able to negotiate direct music licenses for substantial catalogs of music at rates lower than what it has paid under previous rate decisions, it would presumably introduce such evidence in proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board (which is now in the process of setting the rates for the public performance of sound recordings by SiriusXM over its satellite service for the next 5 years), and argue that these direct deals are the best evidence of what a willing buyer and willing seller would agree to in a competitive marketplace."

But direct licensing deals between SiriusXM and rights holders could also impact future Internet radio royalty rate decisions.

"One of the biggest issues in all rate proceedings heard before the CRB has been establishing what a willing buyer and willing seller would agree to pay in a competitive marketplace like the one for which the rates are being set," writes Oxenford. "In most cases, as there are no direct licenses, the CRB has to extrapolate what willing buyers and willing sellers would pay for sound recording performance royalties in a noninteractive market from evidence of what companies pay in other markets...

Davis Wright Tremaine"Lower direct licensing rate could impact not only the rates paid by SiriusXM, but also other proceedings dealing with the sound recording royalty rate, including potentially proceedings for webcasting royalties (proceedings that will also affect the rates that broadcasters pay for streaming their signals)."

The next CRB proceeding for Internet radio begins in 2014 to set royalty rates for 2016-2020.

You can find Oxenford's full analysis of the SiriusXM lawsuit at the Broadcast Law Blog here.

Oxenford will interview U.S. Copyright Office General Counsel David Carson on-stage at RAIN Summit West 2012 in Las Vegas, on Sunday, April 15. You can find out more here.

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