Copyright Royalties Copyright Office Proposes Adoption of New Fee Schedule

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Copyright Office Proposes Adoption of New Fee Schedule

On May 24, 2018, the Copyright Office proposed the adoption of a new fee schedule. Comments can be submitted electronically and should be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on September 21, 2018. For instructions on submitting comments, see https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/feestudy2018/comment-submission/ .

For more information on the proposed fee schedule, see https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-05-24/pdf/2018-11095.pdf . Below is a brief overview of the rationales behind the proposed fee increases and a table representing the proposed fee increases for basic and group registrations.

Before fees are changed, the Register of the Copyright Office first conducts a cost study taking into account the cost of claim registrations, recording documents and providing services. After the study, the Register can adjust fees to cover the reasonable costs of the Office for its services in addition to inflation adjustments. Fees must be fair and equitable and take into consideration the objectives of the copyright system. The proposed fee schedule and economic analysis is then sent to Congress for approval.

The Copyright Office Licensing Division charges filing fees for the statements of accounts that cable and satellite companies submit under the statutory licenses in Section 111, 119 and 122 for the secondary transmission of primary broadcast television transmissions. The proposed fees can be found on page 24063 of the rulemaking linked above. The filing fees must be reasonable and not exceed 50% of the Office’s costs to administer the statements of account and royalty fees with the statements.

Administrative costs for cable and satellite licensing programs are considered when fees are known and not when the statements of account are actually submitted to the Office. As such, there is a certain level of uncertainty associated with the estimated costs.  However, the Office has noted that the number of cable statements of account will continue to decrease. The Office predicts a decrease from 5,000 in the most recent fiscal year to about 3,765 in fiscal year 2023. Additionally, there were only 9 satellite filings in fiscal year 2017. Due to the uncertainty and projected decrease in filings, the Office has proposed conservative increases in fees for cable and satellite statements of account as to not go over the 50% statutory threshold.

The Copyright Office adjusts its fees every three to five years. The last adjustment took place in May 2014. An increase in fees is due primarily to anticipated expenses associated with the Office’s ongoing information technology and business process modernization efforts, which are anticipated to cost $12-15 million per year over the next five years. Historically, the Office has recovered costs of approximately 60% from fees and the rest through appropriations. Registration fees apply and can be found in the notice of proposed rulemaking linked above.

By Rohan Parekh