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Ruling: Radio Must Pay Extra Fees

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December 9, 2000 


WASHINGTON Radio stations that stream their broadcasts over the Internet must pay additional royalty fees, the U.S. Copyright Office said Friday.

Broadcasters had argued that they already pay licensing fees allowing them to play the copyrighted material on radio airwaves. Paying again to transmit on the Internet would be double-dipping, they said.

But a Copyright Office ruling said record companies are entitled to additional fees for Internet transmission.

``A public performance of a copyrighted work contained on a radio signal occurs each time it is retransmitted over a digital communications network, such as the Internet,'' the ruling said. ``Consequently, broadcasters must license the copyrights to the programming.''

The decision was a win for artists and record companies.

``They reached the right conclusion as a matter of law and sensible policy,'' Hilary Rosen, president and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a statement. ``This is an important right for artists and record companies.''

The National Association of Broadcasters, which had asked a federal court in New York to rule on the issue, will await that decision, said president and chief executive Edward O. Fritts.

``NAB believes this ruling is directly contrary to existing federal law and congressional intent as expressed in the Copyright Act,'' he said.

How much broadcasters will have to pay for the radio Internet streams will be determined by an arbitration panel.

The Digital Media Association, which represents companies that deliver music and video online, said the ruling was a ``positive step forward'' in the growth of the webcasting industry that already must pay royalties for copyrighted material.

``When you're on the Web you play by the Web rules,'' said association executive director Jonathan Potter.

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