Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Public Law No: 108-419 (11/30/2004)

Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004 - (Sec. 3) Replaces provisions authorizing and governing copyright arbitration royalty panels with provisions providing for the appointment of, and for adjudication of royalty rates for compulsory licenses under the Copyright Act by, Copyright Royalty Judges (CRJs). Requires the Librarian of Congress, after consultation with the Register of Copyrights, to appoint three full-time CRJs and to appoint one of the three as the Chief Copyright Royalty Judge.

Specifies CRJ functions, including to: (1) determine and adjust the terms and rates of royalty payments for statutory licenses; (2) adjust statutory royalty rates for secondary transmissions by cable systems to reflect inflation, the average rates charged to cable subscribers for such transmissions, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations; (3) authorize, and make determinations regarding, distribution of royalty fees collected; (4) accept or reject royalty claims on the basis of timeliness or failure to establish a basis for the claim; (5) accept or reject rate adjustment petitions or petitions to participate; (6) determine whether royalties are due for importing, manufacturing, or distributing a digital audio recording device or a digital audio interface device; and (7) adopt an agreement on terms, rates, or distribution of royalties that are agreed to by some or all participants in a proceeding if the participants do not object.

Sets forth qualifications, including requiring that: (1) each CRJ be an attorney with at least seven years experience; (2) one CRJ have significant knowledge of copyright; and (3) another CRJ have significant knowledge of economics. Sets forth provisions regarding staffing, length of terms, vacancies, and compensation. Grants CRJs full independence in making decisions and determinations, but authorizes consultation with the Register of Copyrights on certain matters. Requires the CRJs to request a decision from the Register on novel material questions of substantive law and to apply the Register's legal determination to resolve such questions. Allows the Register to review and correct CRJ resolutions for legal errors.

Prohibits a CRJ from undertaking any duties that conflict with his or her judicial duties and responsibilities. Requires the Librarian to adopt standards of conduct for CRJs, including regulations regarding conflicts of interest. Allows the Librarian to sanction or remove a CRJ for violations.

Allows a CRJ to preside individually over some collateral and administrative proceedings.

Sets forth provisions governing the operation of CRJ proceedings, including the initiation of proceedings, voluntary negotiations, and procedures for small claims or claims in which there is no genuine issue of material fact.

Authorizes CRJs to issue regulations, subject to the Librarian's approval, to carry out their functions. Sets forth requirements for such regulations, including for regulations governing filing deadlines, procedural and evidentiary rules, discovery, and rehearing. Authorizes CRJs to issue subpoenas. Requires CRJ determinations to be supported by the written record and to set forth findings of fact.

Allows CRJs to issue an amendment to a written determination to correct any technical or clerical errors in the determination or to modify the terms, but not the rates, of royalty payments in response to unforeseen circumstances. Permits CRJs to issue orders to protect confidential information.

Requires the Librarian to publish CRJ determinations. Provides for appeals of such determinations to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Allows the court to vacate a CRJ determination and enter its own determination with respect to the amount or distribution of royalty fees and costs or remand the case to the CRJs.

Allows the Librarian to deduct from the copyright filing fees the costs of proceedings under this Act.

Authorizes appropriations.

Allows any owner or user of a copyrighted work whose royalty rates are statutorily specified or established to file a petition with the CRJs declaring that the petitioner requests a determination or adjustment of the rate. Requires CRJs to determine whether the petitioner has a significant interest in the royalty rate.

Sets forth the timing of CRJ proceedings for statutorily established royalty rates.

Requires CRJs to adjust rates set pursuant to a voluntary agreement for inflation.

(Sec. 5) Sets forth technical amendments to license and royalty provisions.

Requires each copyright party seeking to receive royalty payments for the distribution of their musical work or sound recording to file a claim with the CRJs. Requires CRJs to conduct a proceeding to resolve any controversy over the distribution of such royalty payments.

Allows a party preparing to manufacture, import, or distribute for the first time a digital audio recording device or a digital audio interface device, and any interested copyright party, to mutually petition the CRJs to determine whether royalties will be due for such device and the basis for such royalty payments.

(Sec. 6) Makes this Act effective six months after enactment. Provides for the appointment of interim CRJs if necessary. Sets forth transition provisions governing the status of proceedings in effect upon enactment. Declares that proceedings to determine royalty rates for the secondary transmission of primary transmissions by satellite carriers that are commenced before January 31, 2006, are not affected by this Act.