Webcasting, also called Internet streaming, Internet radio or netcasting, is the process of transmitting digitized audio or video content over the Internet. Webcasters may be Internet-only services that transmit one or more different genre-based channels, re-transmitters of traditional AM/FM broadcasts, or services that syndicate music programming as background music on websites.
Two U.S. laws give copyright owners the right to control performances of sound recordings when they are digitally transmitted and give webcasters the automatic right to use the recordings under certain circumstances in exchange for the payment of royalties under a statutory license. The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, granted copyright owners the exclusive right to control or authorize the use of recordings when they are digitally transmitted but not, for example, when they are transmitted for use as background music in a restaurant.
In the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Congress expanded the scope of this digital transmission right. Among other things, the DMCA specifies that webcasters may operate under an automatic license to use copyrighted works at either a voluntarily negotiated rate or at a rate recommended by a panel known as a Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP), subject to review by the Librarian of Congress. These rates, retroactive to October 1998, were to apply through December 2002. The Act calls for this procedure to be repeated every two years as the webcasting industry developed, though it could be extended by agreement between the copyright owners and webcasters.
- Intercollegiate Broadcast Sys., Inc. v. Copyright Royalty Bd., 571 F.3d 69, 72 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (full-text).
- Pub. L. No. 104-39, 109 Stat. 336 (1995).
- Pub. L. No. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2860 (1998).
- The Librarian of Congress is empowered to review CARP decisions and must accept its recommendations for setting rates and terms, unless the Librarian, based upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, determines that the CARP’s recommendations are arbitrary or contrary to law.