Larson & Gaston, LLP, secures highest-ever share of $857 million copyright royalty pool for client in copyright royalties case victory. 

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Larson & Gaston, LLP, a prominent Pasadena law firm serving primarily California-based businesses, achieved a major victory, nearly tripling the Canadian Claimants Group’s (CCG) share of a $857 million dollar royalty pool from 5.5% to 15.8%. This triumph, by Larson & Gaston attorneys Victor J. Cosentino and Michelle Moy, and L. Kendall Satterfield of Washington, D.C., marks a significant milestone in CCG’s history with the group attaining its highest-ever royalty shares.

Although the statutory license under 17 U.S.C. § 111 provides clear guidance on how royalties are to be collected from cable systems that retransmit over-the-air television and radio broadcast programming, it lacks clear mechanisms for how royalty amounts would be distributed. The result has been frequent litigation among the organized groups of copyright owners, including CCG, over how much of the copyright royalties they were owed of the royalties collected.

The central question to be decided was how the Copyright Royalty Judges presiding over the case should assess the relative market value of each claimant’s television programming retransmitted by cable systems. Resolving these questions was the central task of determining the distribution of royalties among copyright claimants.

As Victor Cosentino describes it, “Our approach for 2014 through 2017 was to expand on concepts that arose in prior litigated proceedings and develop a robust economic model that revealed relative market value using the tremendous amounts of data available about television programming on cable systems. Our intent was to elevate the hard data over opinions gleaned through surveys of cable system operators offered by other parties as a means of establishing relative value. And with regard to our client’s share of royalties, we were successful in that effort.”

For the royalties stemming from broadcasts between 2014 and 2017, the CCG and five other claimant groups participated in a five-week remote trial overseen by the Judges in spring 2023 to vie for a portion of approximately $857 million in royalties. After the hearing, the six claimants submitted nearly 3,000 pages of post-hearing briefing. On April 24, 2024, the Judges issued their Final Determination of Royalty Allocation.

The Final Determination of Royalty Allocation is set for publication in the Federal Register soon and may be subject to appeal before The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Judges’ decision represents an immensely positive outcome for the CCG, a testament to the collective efforts of Larson & Gaston’s legal counsel, Kendall Satterfield, and the CCG leadership, as well as the supporting experts and witnesses.

“I am grateful for the exceptional work of Victor Cosentino and Michelle Moy at Larson & Gaston and Kendall Satterfield in securing this landmark victory for the CCG,” said Graeme Carbert, Chairman of the CCG. “Their decades of experience advocating for the CCG, along with the development of an innovative strategy, resulted in a record high share of copyright royalties. On behalf of all CCG members, I am thrilled with this result.”