Intellectual Property: Economic Arrangements Among Small Webcasters and Third Parties and Their Effect on Royalties

GAO-04-700 Published: Jun 01, 2004. Publicly Released: Jun 01, 2004.
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The emergence of webcasting as a means of transmitting audio and video content over the Internet has led to concerns about copyright protection and the payment of royalties to those who own the recording copyrights. Arriving at an acceptable rate for calculating royalties has been particularly challenging. Under the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002, small commercial webcasters reached an agreement with copyright owners that included the option of paying royalties for the period of October 28, 1998, to December 31, 2004, on the basis of a percentage of their revenues, expenses, a combination of both, or a minimum fee rather than paying the royalty rates set by the Librarian of Congress. During debate on the act, copyright owners raised concerns that small webcasters might have arrangements with other parties, such as advertisers, that could produce revenues or expenses that might not be included in their royalty calculations. In this context, the Congress mandated that GAO, in consultation with the Register of Copyrights, prepare a report on the (1) economic arrangements between small webcasters and third parties and (2) effect of those arrangements on the royalties that small webcasters might owe copyright owners.

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