Verification of Cable and Satellite Statements of Account
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 and deposit royalty fees with the U.S. Copyright Office on a semiannual 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).
On June 14, 2012, the Office published a notice of proposed rulemaking that set forth an initial proposal for this audit procedure (the “First Proposed Rule”). The Office received extensive comments from copyright owners and companies that use the statutory licenses. The Office carefully considered 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 (the “Second Proposed Rule”). Once again, the Office received comments from a wide range of stakeholders.
On December 26, 2013, the Office issued an interim rule to establish a procedure for filing a notice of intent to audit a statement of account. The interim rule allows copyright owners to identify the statements they intend to audit, and provides licensees with advance notice of the statements that initially will be subject to audit when the final rule goes into effect.
On July 9, 2014, the Office held a public roundtable to discuss a number of issues that were not fully explored in the First or Second Proposed Rules or in the comments submitted in response to those proposals. The issues discussed at the roundtable are summarized in the Office’s Federal Register notice dated June 3, 2014.
Subsequently, the Office made several modifications to the proposed rule (the “Third Proposed Rule”), based on the comments submitted in response to the Second Proposed Rule and input that the Office received from stakeholders both during and after the roundtable. These modifications are summarized in the Office’s Federal Register notice dated September 17, 2014. A redline showing the differences between the Second Proposed Rule (as it was modified by the interim rule) and the Third Proposed Rule is available at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/soaaduit/Redline.pdf.
The Office invites public comment on this proposal from copyright owners, cable operators, satellite carriers, accounting professionals, and other interested parties. To submit a comment, please use the comment submission form posted at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/soaaduit/comment-submission/.