Researching the New Copyright Royalty Judges

May 8, 2013

Thomson Reuters News and Insight reported yesterday that the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) appointed two new “royalty judges”: David Strickler and Jesse Feder. The CRB might not be a well-known entity, but “billions of dollars and the fates of entire industries can ride on the Copyright Royalty Board’s decisions”  SoundExchange, Inc. v. Librarian of Congress 571 F.3d 1220 (2009).

The role of the CRB is to set royalty rates and terms for statutory licenses.  See generally, 37 C.F.R. Chapter III. These include rates webcasters pay for broadcasting music, rates paid for cable and satellite retransmissions, and rates paid by musicians for  “covers” of other musicians’ musical works.

The rate making proceedings can be politically charged.  For example, check out the Radio and Internet Newsletter accounts of the initial rate-making proceedings for webcasters. To maintain the fairness of these proceedings, Congress  amended the process several times. Most recently, the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels (CARPs) were replaced by the CRB in 2004 (PL 108-419).  Before that, Copyright Royalty Tribunals were replaced by CARPs in 1993 (PL 103-198).

Today’s Copyright Royalty Judges are appointed to six-year terms and are afforded a great deal of power; specifically, they are given “full independence in making determinations concerning adjustments and determinations of copyright royalty rates and terms, the distribution of copyright royalties, ….” 17 U.S.C. § 802(f)(1)(A)(i).

With so much at stake, it’s worthwhile to examine our new CRJ’s legal profiles.  A word of caution here: We make no assumptions about how these individuals might rule or what kind of parties they might favor (e.g., big vs. small).  Consider Jesse Feder, for example.  He served the Business Software Alliance for many years, an organization that has arguably favored a “maximalist” interpretation of copyright law.  Note that opposing counsel for recent BSA litigation includes two public interest groups; the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen.

But also note that Mr. Feder  sits on the Section 108  Study Group whose mission is to reexamine “the exceptions and limitations applicable to libraries and archives under the Copyright Act, specifically in light of the changes wrought by digital media.”  One cannot say for certain how this advocacy might affect CRB decision-making so we recommend a search across multiple sources:

MONITOR SUITE

The table above can be found on a company report from  Monitor Suite.  Simply search for Business Software Alliance.  The resulting report allows you to view a litigation profile for the BSA that may be filtered by court, practice area, opposing counsel, etc.  For help on this, contact a Reference Attorney at 877 347 6360 (Select 1). You may also run litigation profiles for law firms here.

PROFILER

Both attorneys have numerous documents attributed to them on WestlawNext.  To find them, begin by typing profiler into the search box. A pop-up box will recommend a collection of resources.  Choose, Profiles of Attorneys & Judges:

Use the template to identify the attorney, then access the References tab to view relevant documents (briefs, cases, dockets, etc.)

NEWS

Simple Terms and Connectors searches seem to work though “David Strickland” is a more common name and requies additional filtering.

adv: feder /5 jesse and copyright

For more on the political back-story, try a plain language search in Blogs on Demand

“copyright royalty judge”

Remember that quotes on WestlawNext do not function as a boolean operator unless you direct it do that.  This recommended search  clusters relevant terms near one another. To run as an advanced search click the link at the top of the page after running this recommend search:

Or, start with this:

adv: “copyright royalty judge”