The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that THE COPYRIGHT ROYALTY BOARD, which sets the rates broadcasters have to pay for copyright licenses, is unconstitutional.THOMPSONREUTERS reports “the three-judge board, appointed by the Librarian of Congress, violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which requires officers with significant authority be appointed by the President with Senate confirmation. But the court also found that it could fix the constitutional problem by giving the Librarian of Congress greater ability to fire the judges on the board.”
“With such removal power in the Librarian’s hands, we are confident that the Judges are ‘inferior’ rather than ‘principal’ officers, and that no constitutional problem remains,” Judge STEPHEN WILLIAMS wrote for the three-judge panel.
A challenge to the CRB came from INTERCOLLEGIATE BROADCASTING SYSTEM INC, which represents college radio stations that transmit music over the Internet. That organization argued that the Copyright Royalty Board should not be allowed to set rates for educational and noncommercial webcasters. They claimed the judges exercised “significant authority with limited supervision” and therefore “qualified as principal officers that must be appointed by the President with Senate confirmation under the Appointments Clause.”