The Copyright Royalty Board Does Nothing. iTunes' Rates Remain The Same

The Copyright Royalty Board has set rates that companies like Apple and Amazon must pay music publishers for each digital track they sell. And the rates, drum roll please, . . are the same as they were before: 9 cents per song. So everyone can breathe easy. iTunes won’t shut down! (Not that it ever was going to shut down, but it was a good story).

Faced with an industry in transition, with new rules being written every day, the three-judge panel opted to do nothing. And maybe that was the prudent thing to do. But by setting these rates for the next five years, the Copyright Royalty Board missed an opportunity to help put the entire digital music industry on a more rational footing. As I argued yesterday, instead of a per-track fee, the Copyright Royalty Board should have set rates as a percentage of digital music revenues. That way, the whole industry could have grown together.

Until all music becomes free, at least.