The January 31, 2022 deadline for filing your annual minimum fee and related statement of account with SoundExchange under the webcasting statutory licenses under 17 U.S.C. § 112 and 114 allowing radio broadcasters and others to stream sound recordings (the “statutory licenses”) is just around the corner. The easiest way to pay this fee is to log in to SoundExchange’s “Licensee Direct” online filing portal.
IMPORTANT: As a result of a determination by the Copyright Royalty Judges setting sound recording webcasting rates for the 2021-2025 license term, the minimum fee and per-performance fees have increased for all commercial and noncommercial webcasters except for Noncommercial Educational Webcasters (see the penultimate paragraph below) and Public Broadcasters affiliated with National Public Radio (“NPR”), whose rates were set pursuant to settlements with SoundExchange. Specifically, the annual minimum fee increased for both Commercial and Noncommercial Webcasters from $500 to $1,000, and the usage (aka “per performance”) fee charged for webcasting in excess of that permitted by the minimum fee is $0.0022 for 2022 for nonsubscription services and $0.0028 for subscription services. (These per-performance fees are subject to additional changes in later years based on cost-of-living adjustments.) Commercial Webcasters owe additional usage fees once their performance liability exceeds $1,000; Noncommercial Webcasters owe additional usage fees once their monthly webcasting exceeds 159,140 aggregate tuning hours.) Those additional usage fees are due 45 days after the end of the month in which they were incurred and must be accompanied by a monthly statement of account. These fees have been appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Religious Broadcasters Noncommercial Music License Committee, and SoundExchange but must be paid in the interim unless and until they are altered by that appeal and any follow-on remand proceedings.
Except for Noncommercial Educational Webcasters and Public Broadcasters, you also must file Reports of Use informing SoundExchange of the sound recordings that your stations have played. If you owe more than the $1,000 minimum fee for the year, you must file census reports on a monthly basis. If you do not owe more than the $1,000 minimum fee, you may file sample reports on a quarterly basis. Each sample report must include sound recording usage information pertaining to two 7-day periods in that quarter. Reports of Use are due no later than 45 days after the end of the relevant month or quarter.
If you are a Noncommercial Educational Webcaster, your annual minimum fee for 2021 is $600 (a $50 increase from 2021) and is due on January 31, 2022. It will continue to increase in $50 annual increments through 2025. If you are a Noncommercial Educational Webcaster that webcasts at or below 80,000 aggregate tuning hours per month, you remain able to pay a $100 proxy fee by January 31, 2022 to avoid having to file Reports of Use. You must pay this fee and elect this option by January 31 for each year in which you wish to invoke this provision. If you are a Public Broadcaster affiliated with NPR, check with NPR for further details regarding the requirements that apply to you.
Courtesy Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC