It would be flippant (but still true) to wonder when there *isn’t* a row brewing over webcasting rates in the US.
But this week there’s a new angle: fears over the potential for the Copyright Royalty Board to set different rates for major and indie labels from online radio services.
It was spurred by the decision of the CRB’s judges to seek legal guidance over whether they are prohibited from setting rates and terms that (in Billboard’s words) ‘distinguish among the different types or categories of licensors’.
Which doesn’t automatically mean ‘indies and majors’, but that’s certainly how it’s being interpreted by the wider industry.
Some majors reportedly want different rates, while indie body A2IM has come out in favour of a single rate covering all licensors: “A track equals a track, regardless of genre, the identity of the performer or the size of the label releasing the track.” If any new rates were tied to market share, it would stoke an existing row about how that share is calculated, given the number of indie labels distributed by major-owned distributors.
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