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The nation’s largest trade association of broadcasters filed suit Friday against the U.S. Copyright Office to overturn a ruling that could force radio stations that rebroadcast their programming over the Internet to pay millions of dollars in fees to record companies. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the National Association of Broadcasters, along with several member broadcasters, is seeking to overturn the December ruling by Marybeth Peters, the nation’s registrar of copyrights. Radio stations already pay a few hundred million dollars in annual fees to composers and authors of songs, but they are exempt from also paying record labels for broadcasting copyrighted songs over the air. Broadcasters sought the same exemption for Webcasting their over-the-air programming. But Peters sided with the Recording Industry Association of America in the dispute, ruling that the exemption applies to broadcasters in only limited situations. The lawsuit argues that if the ruling stands, broadcasters who want to stream programming over the Internet would be forced either “to engage in a multiplicity of individual negotiations with the copyright owners of every sound recording they stream (with the right of any such copyright owner to withhold license authority) or, if, but only if, they qualify, to secure a compulsory license covering such streaming.” The suit points out that it’s not clear that broadcasters would qualify for such licenses. Companies that offer music solely over the Internet already are required by law to pay royalties to the record labels. The lawsuit further argues that the ruling from the Copyright Office, which is a division of the Library of Congress, would fundamentally “reorder the legal and economic relationships between broadcast radio and recording industries in a manner that could wreak havoc with over-the-air broadcast formats and stifle the offer of streamed over-the-air radio broadcast programming over the Internet.” Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Out With the New, In With the Old Copyrights Rule Copyright Music Groups Agree on Web Licenses Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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