Copyright in the United States of America: Broadcast rights
I am corporate counsel for Hinshaw Music. I was recently made aware of
questions on choralist surrounding execution of a written release of
broadcast rights by Colorado Public Radio.
First, some background. A radio or television "broadcast" is considered to
be a public performance invoking the public performance right of copyright
holders. However, broadcast rights are often treated specially in radio
Performance licenses that NPR affiliates receive from ASCAP,
BMI, and SESAC permit broadcast (performance), of music compositions in
these respective societies' repertoires throughout the United States.
Separate internet performance licenses from these societies permit digital
I spoke to Sean Nethery, who is the Vice President of Communications
of Colorado Public Radio. Sean explains that there are several reasons why
the station requires a release of broadcast rights in certain circumstances.
CPR must not only concern itself with rights of songwriters and publishers
re: musical compositions, but also the digital rights that performers retain
in sound recording copyrights.
CPR simulcasts on the internet. The
broadcast release covers these digital rights in the sound recording.
CPR receives a blanket license from the RIAA covering the major labels'
digital performance rights in commercial sound recordings. However, there
is no comparable blanket release for what CPR refers to as private or
"non-commercial,"namely a non-major label recording.
CPR provides forms for granting broadcast rights, which can be limited to
one or two individual performances, or contain blanket, unlimited grants.
In certain respects, CPR should be commended for being so careful about
obtaining necessary clearances for broadcasting music featured
on its classical music stations.
Sean emphasized to me that CPR is dedicated to promoting and encouraging
the broadcast of independent groups. To this end, he specifically
authorized me to give his email address which is snethery(a)cpr.org and invite
anyone who is interested in submitting their group's music to contact him
directly with respect to further questions regarding these requirements.
Robert A. Monath