Pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, a cable or satellite system carrying secondary transmissions of broadcast stations must pay “compulsory license” royalties to the Register of Copyrights. These royalties are held in a pool to compensate eligible copyright owners who submit timely claims. In order to share in the distribution of the royalty fees collected for the year 2016, eligible copyright owners must file a claim with the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board by July 31, 2017.
Three types of copyright owners whose works were the subject of secondary transmissions by cable systems during the relevant period are qualified to receive royalties:
· those whose work was included in a cable system’s secondary transmission of a non-network television program beyond the local service area of the station (generally, the DMA of a television station);
· those whose work was included in a secondary transmission identified in a cable system’s “special statement of account” for substituted or additional non-network television programs; and
· those whose work was included in non-network programming consisting exclusively of aural signals carried by a cable system beyond the local service area of the station.
To be eligible to receive satellite royalty fees, a copyright owner’s work must have been included in a secondary transmission for private home viewing made by a satellite carrier during calendar year 2016.
Claims to the cable and satellite royalty funds for programming that aired in 2016 must be filed using forms available from the Copyright Royalty Board. Claim forms, which can be submitted electronically or on paper, are available here. The Copyright Royalty Board strongly suggests that claims be filed online.