Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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SoundExchange, a nonprofit entity, charged with the responsibility of collecting royalties for performing artists and copyright owners of music, filed suit under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., against Muzak, a company that supplies digital music channels to satellite television networks who, in turn, sell to subscribers. SoundExchange alleged that Muzak underpaid royalties owed. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that the better interpretation of the statute is that the term "service" under section 114(j)(11) contemplates a double limitation; both the business and the program offering must qualify before the transmissions are eligible for the favorable rate. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court. View "SoundExchange, Inc. v. Muzak LLC" on Justia Law

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Henderson, Nevada executed an agreement with Developer to construct sports venues on 480 acres of federally-owned public land. The city requested the Bureau of Land Management in the Department of Interior to convey the land to Developer. After completion of the project, Developer was to transfer ownership of the land and the sports complex to the city; the city would lease back the venues to Developer. The Bureau agreed to conduct a modified competitive sealed-bid auction, so that Developer had the right to match the highest bid. After the bidding, Developer paid the balance and requested the land patent for recording. Within hours after the funds transferred to the Bureau, Developer terminated its agreement with Henderson. Henderson requested the Bureau to cancel the sale and sued Developer. The parties settled. Developer agreed to give the city $4.25 million after it recorded the patent and not to pursue any development in Henderson. The city agreed to withdraw its objection. The Department determined that the Bureau should not release a patent for the land. Developer alleged violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by canceling the sale more than 30 days after it paid for the land. The district court held that the Secretary had plenary power to terminate the sale because its consummation would have been contrary to law, given that the Bureau had authorized a modified land auction, only because of the anticipated public benefits. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, rejecting a claim that the Secretary’s action was arbitrary. The auction sale was rendered unlawful when Developer terminated the agreement; it did not suffer a due process violation because it never acquired a property interest in the land. View "Silver State Land, LLC v. Schneider" on Justia Law

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The Spectrum Act, Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156, responds to the rapidly growing demand for mobile broadband services by granting the FEC authority to reallocate a portion of the licensed airwaves from television broadcasters to mobile broadband providers. The Act contemplates the repurposing of licensed spectrum through a multi-step auction process. The statutory framework governing the repacking process is set out in 47 U.S.C. 1452. This case involves a challenge to the Commission’s implementation of the Spectrum Act brought by a particular species of broadcasters - low-power television (LPTV) stations. Determining that it has jurisdiction, the court rejected petitioners’ contention that the terms of section 1452(b)(5) unambiguously compel protecting LPTV stations from displacement in the repacking process called for by the Act. Furthermore, the court concluded that the Commission’s treatment of LPTV stations in the challenged orders rests on a reasonable understanding of subsection (b)(5) for purposes of Chevron step two, and the court rejected petitioners’ arbitrary-and-capricious arguments to the same effect. Finally, the court rejected petitioners' procedural challenge. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Mako Commc'n v. FCC" on Justia Law