In 2010, Congress enacted the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (''STELA''), Pub. Law 111–175, which amended the statutory licenses that allow cable and satellite providers to retransmit programs that are embodied in over-the-air broadcast transmissions. In order to use these licenses, cable and satellite providers must file Statements of Account ("SOAs") and deposit royalty fees with the U.S. Copyright Office on a semi-annual basis. STELA directed the Register of Copyrights to develop a new procedure to allow copyright owners to audit these filings. See 17 U.S.C. §§ 111(d)(6), 119(b)(2).
The Office is issuing an interim rule to establish the procedure for filing a notice of intent to audit an SOA. The rule will allow copyright owners to identify the SOAs that they intend to audit for accounting periods beginning on or after January 1, 2010. At the same time, it will provide licensees with advance notice of the SOAs that initially will be subject to audit when the Office issues a final rule that addresses the audit procedure generally.
The interim rule will be effective when it is published in the Federal Register, on or about December 26, 2013. Copyright owners that wish to audit SOAs for the 2010-1 accounting period are advised that a notice of intent to audit these SOAs must be received in the Office by December 31, 2013.
A notice of intent addressed to the U.S. Copyright Office, Office of the General Counsel may be provided as follows:
- Notices may be sent by regular mail to P.O. Box 70400, Washington, DC, 20024-0400. Please allow sufficient time for delivery by December 31, 2013.
- Notices may be delivered by a commercial courier service to the Congressional Courier Acceptance Site ("CCAS"), which is located at 2nd and D Streets NE, Washington, DC. CCAS is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (except for federal holidays).
- Notices may be delivered by hand to the Public Information Office ("PIO") of the Copyright Office, which is located in Room LM-401 of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC. PIO is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (except for federal holidays).
On June 14, 2012, the Office published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register that set forth an initial proposal for this audit procedure, including the procedure for filing a notice of intent to audit. The Office received extensive comments from groups representing copyright owners, cable operators, and individual companies that use the statutory licenses. The Office considered all of these comments and revised its proposal based on the suggestions that it received.
On May 9, 2013, the Office published its revised proposal in the Federal Register. Once again, the Office received comments from a range of stakeholders. Many of these parties raised issues of first impression that were not addressed in the initial phase of this proceeding. The Office is carefully reviewing these additional comments and in the near future intends to issue a final rule that addresses the audit procedure generally.