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Copyright Office Sets Webcasting Rates

The U.S. Copyright Office has given the thumbs-up to an agreement on royalty rates between the recording industry and online radio broadcasters, a move that gives webcasters several royalty payment options.

For the 2003-2004 period, the settlement agreement spells out the royalty rates for all webcasters -- ranging from Internet-only Webcasters to subscription services to non-commercial radio broadcast simulcasts.

The deal calls for commercial non-subscription and new subscription services to decide between paying per performance rates (per song, per listener) or aggregate tuning hour (per listener, per hour). It also sets rates for what is described as "new subscription services" to have the option to pay a percentage of subscription revenues. Large-scale commercial broadcasters also have choices of royalty payment terms, the Copyright Office said in a statement.

The Copyright Office also designated SoundExchange as the collection and distribution agent for the royalty fees.

The royalty agreement means that large scale Internet-only webcasters like Microsoft ,Yahoo , America Online and RealNetworks would pay either .0762 cents per song per listener of 1.17 cents per listener per hour. The minimum payment for Internet-only webcasters is $2,500.

For subscription services, the Internet-only options are available along with a third option of paying 10.9 percent of revenues. Fees for commercial and non-commercial radio broadcast simulcasts are fixed separately.