UK Music Licensing Agency Says You Can't Use Its Music In Your Podcast Without First Purchasing A License It Doesn't Even Offer

from the pretty-much-like-the-movie-'Brazil,'-only-with-stylish-electronics dept

The nightmarishly intertwining world of music licensing is a popular topic here, especially considering the past outlandish actions of various performance rights agencies. On top of this, there’s the multitude of different licenses, each one applying specifically to certain formats or outlets. If it’s streaming on Youtube, it needs x license and y license. If it’s streaming at Spotify, it needs x license and z license. If it’s a radio station simulcast at the station’s website, license x, y and z are needed, along with license aa. And so on.

Podcasters in the UK are running into licensing problems when attempting to clear music for their broadcasts, as PPL (who covers performance rights for recorded music, like SoundExchange in the US) is causing problems. PPL has a history of questionable over enforcement, and they just can’t let up, apparently. Phil Satterly sends in this rather sad story of a long-running Progressive Rock podcast (DRRP Radio) that is going “off the air” thanks to PPL’s thoroughly impossible demands.

Launched 18 months ago, we’ve produced 83 shows that have been downloaded over 30,000 times. We’ve covered bands from every type of prog. We’ve done special features on independent labels and festivals plus interviews with the likes of Clive Nolan, Steven Wilson, Gazpacho, Steve Hogarth, Riverside, Sean Filkins, Mystery and Godsticks. We have regular listeners from as far away as New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Cuba and The Shetland Isles!

Unfortunately three weeks ago our service provider stopped enabling downloads of the shows. The move followed pressure from the PPL – the organisation in the UK which provides broadcast licences for the recording copyright holder (i.e. record companies).

PPL is doing what collective rights organizations do best: shut down as many artistic outlets as possible. The organization is looking for a payout, but can’t even be bothered to let people pay them, as Andy Read (one of the podcast hosts) points out.

Music licensing is a complex issue and it took quite some find to find a way to legally do DPRP Radio in the first place. We have a broadcast licence, we have a streaming licence and we have a podcast licence for the PRS – the body representing the songwriters. We do not have a podcast licence for the PPL who are now threatening legal action against podcast providers. We would happily buy a podcast licence from them… but they do not offer one!

DRRP isn’t the only podcast being asked to do the impossible by PPL. The UK Folk Music podcast host quotes the PPL website’s wording on the broadcast licensing it does offer.

As a broadcaster you would have to obtain permission from potentially thousands of record companies before being able to play the recorded music – a PPL licence gives you this permission and allows you to play virtually all recorded music readily available in the UK simply, quickly and legally. PPL then passes these licence fees, less our running costs, onto the performers and rights holders, similar to royalties.

Handy, I guess, except that PPL does not offer a license specifically for podcasting. Podcasters need a very limited license if using PPL’s music because the podcasts are able to be downloaded and stored. This distinguishes them (and moves them into another area of copyright protection) from radio broadcasts or other streaming services whose offerings are transient. (Not that these can’t be “trapped/downloaded.” Anyone remember cassette tapes? Yeah, same thing. Only with software.)

PPL’s lack of a podcasting license punts the ball back to podcasters and other music bloggers. If they can’t get a blanket license, they’ll have to do it the hard way: “obtain permission from potentially thousands of record companies before being able to play the recorded music.”

Obviously, this is an impossibility. And for those of you saying clever stuff like “just use original music by artists not represented by this agency?” Well, you obviously haven’t been paying attention. Rights groups like PPL and PRS will still try to collect from you. In their minds, no one plays music anywhere (not even in their hardware store/ hotel room) without playing a bunch of their stuff. It’s a self-serving distortion of reality.

And for those hoping the artists that split from PPL to form their own rights group (EOS) will result in a brighter, smoother future for all concerned? You can pretty much kiss that rosy picture goodbye. EOS has already attempted to shutter a few radio stations. The end result is another venue for artist exposure being shut down by the “white knights” of the artistic community. These agencies don’t really care about the artists on their roster. They just want to find a way to insert themselves, hands out, between the artists and their supporters.

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Companies: ppl

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Comments on “UK Music Licensing Agency Says You Can't Use Its Music In Your Podcast Without First Purchasing A License It Doesn't Even Offer”

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out_of_the_blue says:

You promote tiny outlets, disregarding collateral damage

it would do to the industry. — And copyright IN FACT is for entire industry, NOT for individuals podcasting. — That means ONLY that I recognize current FACT, not that I favor the situation. — So you need to argue on more Populist grounds.

YET, when you use other people’s work, especially if to help you gain income, you ARE subject to restrictions; it’s part of copyright so as to minimize grifters getting unearned income.

You’ve left out some crucial info: “PPL’s lack of a podcasting license punts the ball back to podcasters and other music bloggers. If they can’t get a blanket license,” — so does that mean NO license covering “podcasting” is available at all, or the blanket one is priced too high (as you believe)?

You unduly tangle it up by saying the collectors will still come with other music, but that’s actually a whole ‘nother question.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: CTRL+C, CTRL+V to the rescue!!!

Time and time again, that pure-monopoly copyright isn’t the correct way. Having a copyright system that allows for building on top of a work, whilst still preserving the rights of the creators of a work, is a far more laudable goal than the current system.

We just need to kill the MAFIAA and make it politically toxic to support breaking inter-connectivity in order to support a model that is negatively impacting all other aspects of economic growth.

See? That’s what’s needed not more middlemen with pissy-ass reasons to demand money that doesn’t make it to the creators of a work (not the funders.)

IronM@sk (profile) says:

Re: Re: CTRL+C, CTRL+V to the rescue!!!

so does that mean NO license covering “podcasting” is available at all, or the blanket one is priced too high (as you believe)?

You tell us, troll. You seem to have all the “knowledge.” The article clearly states that PPL offers no podcasting license and that the affected parties would gladly pay for one if it were.

You really don’t bother to read the articles, do you?

negruvoda (profile) says:

Re: You promote tiny outlets, disregarding collateral damage

Reading comprehension fail as usual.
PPL does not offer a blanket podcasting license, ie one where you pay $$$ per year to play music on your podcast. It is not a difference between $1000 and $10000 for the license.

The only other option is to decide what music you want to play, and then contact each and every copyright holder and ask them nicely how much they would like to be paid for you playing a snip of their song on your podcast. This would involve a massive number of man hours and make the whole thing useless. And that is in case you can actually get permission. And then you pay them, and play the music.

AND THEN PPL comes along and says “you did not pay us for the music you are playing, you must be infringing”.

Vicious PPL circle
10 Find all copyright owners.
20 Get permission.
30 Pay for permission.
40 Play music.
50 Get threat from PPL
60 Respond, pointing out that PPL does not have licence.
70 GOTO 50

But I’ve been here long enough to realize your grasp on reality is tenuous at best.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You promote tiny outlets, disregarding collateral damage

I don’t even what your first paragraph is about so I’ll let someone else work it out.

Paragraph 2 seems to make sense and is, I think, correct.

Paragraph 3 indicates that you didn’t read the article, it’s clearly stated that no blanket licenses for pod-casting are available and the other blanket licenses aren’t applicable (according to the license vendors at least).

Paragraph 4 shows further lack of reading and/or comprehension. He is pre-empting the “shop with your feet” argument showing how it’s hardly a valid option.

Overall 4/10, would not bother recommending to a friend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You promote tiny outlets, disregarding collateral damage

“Overall 4/10, would not bother recommending to a friend.”

I’m sorry you feel that way. We don’t have any other rants on stock right now, but we are waiting on a shipment that includes an article about the CFAA* which should bring some good trolls with it.

Also, I think the bargain bin still has some cheap “Pirate Mike!”, other than that, we’re out all out, sorry.

* Yes, I’m making stuff up. I don’t have a crystal ball (because I am a cheap bastard).

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You promote tiny outlets, disregarding collateral damage

* Yes, I’m making stuff up. I don’t have a crystal ball (because I am a cheap bastard).

You really should. It is only $15 a year, which according to some commercials is far less than a cup of coffee a month (apparently those commercials don’t drink 7-Eleven coffee.) And the added advantage is you get a nice “insider” badge next to your name and keep Mike running this site.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: You promote tiny outlets, disregarding collateral damage

YET, when you use other people’s work, especially if to help you gain income, you ARE subject to restrictions; it’s part of copyright so as to minimize grifters getting unearned income.

HA HA . Given that the primary purpose of copyright is to maximise unearned income for publishers your comment is a joke!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You promote tiny outlets, disregarding collateral damage

Funny. I thought you were all about the small guy? Why all the brouhaha over the big industry fatcats not making money on something they don’t offer?

Each and every statement you post is an insult to any functioning organism, though it’s also a remarkably accurate portrayal of how the pro-copyright side functions. Have fun cheering for Prenda with Chicken Joe, you addlepated troglodyte.

anonymouse says:


According to their outlook and suing of pirates there is a lot of money being made from music , even tracks that are rarely heard are encouraging payments for licenses so even if i create a song that is listened only a few times i should still be getting thousands of dollars a year just for it being out there.

Somewhere some politician needs to come up with a way to combine all licenses and have only one payment, and that payment must be paid to the content creator minus say 0.5% for the trouble and time the organization goes to to distribute licenses. They would be making more than enough to exist and pay the minimum of salaries and infrastructure charges and still have a small profit to enforce their licenses.

kenichi tanaka says:

Just wait. When every radio station, podcaster, and music venue is shut down and music artists aren’t getting paid because nobody has heard their music and music fans want to listen to that music before buying it, then they can bitch and moan to their music publishers and ask why their music isn’t being played.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh they’ll just blame piracy for the loss in sales(as always). After all, they could never be the ones screwing everything up for artists and labels. /s

This is why, for all the whining and moaning about those ‘horrible pirates’, the movie and music industries actually love the whole ‘piracy’ angle, as it’s a big bad boogieman they can pull out any time they feel they aren’t making all the money, allowing them to demand more laws be created in their favor.

Anonymous Coward says:

so sad that no official organisation is willing or able to offer these services but they are all doing their best to close down those that can and do offer the services. ‘we cant do it, so instead of helping and encouraging, we’ll shut them all down’. where’s the sense in that? it’s jealousy in it’s worst and most weird form!

Eddy says:

Why on earth did you put yourself through so much hassle??? LOL. This is an old article, but I thought I needed to contribute.

If you’re streaming downloadable podcast “shows”, and you yourself are hosting that material, it’s no wonder you were in such a mess. Bloody hell.

Podcasts = means shows to download only (not stream)

If you are “hosting the material yourself”, and if you’re streaming PLUS offering download links, you’ll need a broadcast license from PPL, plus a podcast license from PRS (if you use UK artists material), plus you’ll need master licenses from the artists you showcase. You may even need a separate streaming license from PRS lol.

Why don’t you save yourself the migraines, and use Mixcloud?
MixCloud is licensed by both PPL and PRS.

(1) Use MixCloud to host your Podcasts (they call them CloudCasts). You wont encounter PPL at all. Don’t put any download links on these cloudcasts, otherwise they’ll get removed (or you can pay for the podcast license from PRS )

(2) Before using MixCloud and uploading anything, you need to get the owners permission via master license.

We’ve all moved past the ideas of hosting material ourselves, as it creates scenarios like this one lol. Use “licensed” websites, and get permission from the copyright owners! (artist/label). Pretty dam simple really.

Alex (profile) says:

Podcast licence

I spoke to the PPL ten minutes ago just before finding this article. Indeed they do not have a licence that covers podcasting because their members (ie record companies) opted to not have them negotiate that.

Therefore, logically they should not be able to put ANY pressure, legal or otherwise on podcasts as they are not representing the rights holders on this issue by their own words.

Secondly, I don’t understand why you would have to negotiate with thousands of labels. How many tracks are you going to play? Are you running a 24/7 podcast of pure music?

I’m looking at starting a podcast. If I use any tracks it will be from bands I know, most are not on labels or on small indie labels at best. Therefore the few tracks I play will be easily negtiable, i.e. “hey, how about I play this track with your interview”.

Wayne says:

PPL and CMOs

This information is at best out of date and misleading.
There is a PPL license for podcasting, they don’t call it "podcasting". It’s a license for streaming audio on a website and then the downloading of that stream.

Anyone that says the "monopolies" of collective management organisations like PPL are unfair etc…obviously do not understand the principal of collective management.
If there were more than one CMO providing market competition, then each broadcaster would have to purchase a license from each and every one or only play the music registered to the one they do have a license from.

Rightsholders ,who were incorrectly categorised in the article as "labels" when in fact this also includes self releasing artists who own their own masters, would also have to become members of all of them to ensure they dont miss out on airplay. Managing the mandates and rights of one CMO is beyond 51% of professional musicians (according to MU study) so multiplying that would make rights management a minefield which would create the need for even more middlemen to handle these rights. Further reducing payouts to performers.

This is article is just another case of someone who doesn’t understand the industry fully and instead of trying to find out just jumps to the conclusion that "they" are all out to get him…"the labels have it all sewn up" and all the other usual complaints of the naive and paranoid.

As he only quotes the PPL website i’m assuming he didn’t even call them up…instead opting to go directly from ignorance to outrage.

This is what really hurts musicians, lack of information and misinformation. Not an imaginary conspiracy between the record labels.

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