Showdown with Apple (updated)

Digital music retailers await copyright board decision (pdf)

For five years, Apples iTunes Music Store has been the Internets most successful music store. But as music publishers have sought a higher share of its proceeds, Apple has threatened to shutter iTunes.

The Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, D.C. is expected to rule Thursday on a request by the National Music Publishers Association to increase royalty rates paid to its members on songs purchased from online music stores like iTunes. The publishers association wants rates raised from 9 cents to 15 cents a track – a 66% hike.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) declined to discuss the boards pending decision or its previous threat to shut down iTunes. But it adamantly opposes the publishers request. In a statement submitted to the board last year, iTunes vice president Eddy Cue said Apple might close its download store rather than raise its 99 cents a song price or absorb the higher royalty costs.

Later: from the 10/3/2008 Boston Globe (pdf)

Songwriters royalty rates to remain at 9.1ยข a song
The US Copyright Royalty Board left unchanged the royalty rates paid by record labels to songwriters and music publishers, trade groups said. Royalty rates for permanent digital downloads and compact discs will remain at 9.1 cents a song, the National Music Publishers’ Association said. It said the copyright board for the first time established a rate for mobile phone ringtones, setting it at 24 cents. The Recording Industry Association of America said in a statement it was “pleased” the decision freezes the current rate for CDs and downloads for five years. (Bloomberg)