Music Choice v. Copyright Royalty Board, No. 13-1174/13-1183 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 19, 2014).
In 2013, the Judges of the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) issued a determination setting royalty rates and defining terms for statutorily defined satellite digital audio radio services and preexisting subscription services. SoundExchange, which collects and distributes royalties, argued that the CRB arbitrarily set rates too low and that the CRB erred in defining "Gross Revenue" and eligible deductions. Music Choice, which provides music-only television channels, also appealed arguing that the Judges set the rates too high.
The Court of Appeals held that the CRB acted within its broad discretion to set rates for compulsory licenses of the digital performance of sound recordings, and therefore affirmed the determination of royalty rates. The appellate court found that the CRB did not exercise its broad discretion in an arbitrary or capricious manner when setting royalty rates for satellite digital audio radio services and preexisting subscription services.
For satellite digital audio radio services, the rate was set at 11%; in order to avoid disruption, the CRB adopted a staggered schedule beginning at 9% in 2013 and increasing by 0.5% annually until achievement of 11% in 2017.
For preexisting subscription services, the rate was set at 8.5% with an upward adjustment for Music Choice's planned channel expansion. The rate would start at 8% in 2013 and increase to 8.5% for 2014 through 2017.