Supreme Court refuses to hear Copyright Royalty Board challenge
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Supreme Court refuses to hear Copyright Royalty Board challenge

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of the organisation that sets royalty fees for copyrighted music.

On Tuesday, the court refused to grant a writ of certiorari by Intercollegiate Broadcast System (IBS), an association of non-commercial webcasters broadcasting to educational institutions, which challenged the authority of the Copyright Royalty Board.

The Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of three judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress, was created under the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004. IBS had argued that the board should instead be appointed by the US President and confirmed by the Senate.

The case stemmed from the board’s decision to make noncommercial educational webcasters pay an annual fee of $500 per channel to play unlimited amounts of music. Challenging the fee before the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia, IBS argued that the $500 charge was invalid because the board’s structure was unconstitutional.

In July 2012, the appellate court agreed that the Copyright Royalty Board was unconstitutional because of restrictions on the Librarian of Congress’s ability to remove the judges, but fixed the issue by removing these restrictions.

Having decided that the board’s structure was unconstitutional at the time it determined the fee, the appellate court vacated the board’s decision but did not address IBS’s arguments regarding whether the rate structure was correct.

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