CRB mechanical royalty ruling appeal begins today

The Copyright Royalty Board’s 2018 ruling for mechanical royalties to be paid by streaming services has been on the books for awhile, but it will be returning to court this week. Amazon, Google, Pandora, and Spotify filed appeals against the ruling in March, looking to overturn the 44% increase in fees they owe to songwriters. The U.S. Court of Appeals will begin hearing arguments from the legal counsel for Amazon and Spotify today.

With the new start of debates over streaming service royalty payments, trade groups and songwriters have been going on the offensive to garner support. NMPA President and CEO David Israelite gave a statement to Variety on Monday about revisiting the mechanical royalty rates.

“This week a historic trial that affects every songwriter begins in Washington, D.C. Two of the largest streaming services in the world are challenging a ruling that gave songwriters a 44%+ raise,” he said. “While this raise was a step forward, it still fell far short of what songwriters deserve, and yet Spotify and Amazon have found this modest increase too much to pay to the very people on whom they depend. All creators and artists should be watching what happens in this unprecedented appeal.”

The CRB’s decision for mechanical royalty rates to be paid by streaming services fell short of the share NMPA and other industry groups had pushed for, but it was more than the share the streaming companies had hoped to pay.

Anna Washenko