Industry players challenge US Internet copyright rule

A wide array of US broadcasters and online companies challenged a ruling from a panel of copyright judges that they say could cripple the emerging business of offering music broadcasts over the Internet, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Clear Channel Communications, National Public Radio and groups representing both large and small companies providing music broadcasts online were among those asking the Copyright Royalty Board to reconsider key parts of its March 2 ruling.

That ruling, the challenging parties say, would greatly increase the amount of royalties that online music broadcasters would have to pay to record labels and performers, as well as put unreasonable demands on them to track how many songs were listened to by exactly how many individuals online, the report said.

The royalties in question only apply to digital transmissions of music, such as through Web sites, and are paid to the performers of songs and record labels. Webcasters also pay additional royalties to the composers and publishers of music, similar to those also paid by over-the-air broadcasters, the report added.

Under a previous arrangement, which expired at the end of 2005, broadcasters and online companies such as Yahoo and Time Warner's AOL unit could pay royalties based on estimates of how many songs were played over a given period of time, or a 'tuning hour,' as opposed to counting every single song, the report said.

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