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"The AM/FM streaming rate must be resolved by the CARP in this proceeding. Of course, the parties are free to make a joint submission to the CARP, urging it to adopt rates upon which they have agreed, but the CARP would have to know what those rates are in order to adopt them."
—--Marybeth Peters, U.S. Register of Copyrights
CARP CRAP
Copyright Office Rejects Webcast Settlement

While royalty-rates hearings will never be as exciting as, say, work-for-hire, at least there’s mystery, intrigue and back-room wrangling in the ongoing drama.

To wit: U.S. Copyright Office Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters has denied a request by the RIAA and broadcasters to settle a royalty rate for web streaming. The settlement of royalty rates was requested in December by broadcasters and the RIAA, who formally asked to withdraw from the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel.

The CARP ran hearings last summer to determine how much webcasters should pay to record labels and musicians for streaming music on the Internet. The rate will be determined by the Panel and must be accepted by the Copyright Office before being enacted on all broadcasters and webcasters for 1998-2002.

In December, the RIAA and broadcasters re-purposing offline radio feeds over the Internet attempted to settle, with a 10-year act. The rate was to have been kept secret from royalty arbitrators while they were still determining the webcast rate. Re-broadcast rates are usually valued at less than pure webcasts—which perhaps had something to do with the desire for secrecy.

With us so far? Too bad, because we're totally lost.

Peters rejected the request because of the secret clause. In her order, Peters said, "The AM/FM streaming rate must be resolved by the CARP in this proceeding. Of course, the parties are free to make a joint submission to the CARP, urging it to adopt rates upon which they have agreed, but the CARP would have to know what those rates are in order to adopt them. Oh, come on, isn’t someone going to make a fish joke, for chrissake?"

In July, during the hearing, the RIAA was pushing a royalty rate of 0.4 cents per song, while webcasters and broadcasters wanted to pay 0.014 cents per digital spin.

In a related story, the carp is a noble fish.

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