Webcasters ink royalty deal with major labels


NEW YORK -- Major record labels and SoundExchange have reached a deal with the large webcasting services over crucial terms covering royalty rates that webcasters must pay to stream sound recordings through 2010, Billboard.biz has learned.

Under the deal, reached during a confidential meeting held in New York on Thursday, large commercial webcasters AOL, Live365, MTV, RealNetworks, Pandora and Yahoo will not have to pay more than $50,000 per service as a per-station or per-channel minimum royalty to webcast sound recordings, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Under the Copyright Royalty Board decision earlier this year, there was no limit to the $500 per-channel or per-station minimum fee that services must pay to SoundExchange.

Also, the large webcasters will not be required to implement any particular kind of technology to prevent the streamed music from being ripped, i.e. copied, by users, the source says. But the services have agreed to cooperate and discuss implementation of anti-stream ripping technology on their services with labels and artists.

The deal was reached late Thursday in New York during a meeting at which representatives from all the major labels and the large digital services were present, according to the source.

No final agreement has been reached yet with small webcasters. SoundExchange sent a letter to them this week offering to carry forward old rates through 2010, which is the last year for which rates were set by the CRB under copyright regulations.