How The DMCA Is Restricting Online Radio In Ridiculous Ways

from the can't-play-that-show dept

When webcasting first started to become popular, as with any new and useful offering, the RIAA was quick to try to kill it off with ridiculously high licensing fees. While there was some back and forth over the years, the current fees make it nearly impossible to legally stream music online profitably. But, the details are even worse than you think. Even if you are paying the super high fees (which are much higher than terrestrial radio), there are all kinds of restrictions as well. Michael Scott points us to an excellent article in the Tufts' student paper highlighting how these restrictions are harming college radio without any benefit. As the article notes, they are:
"now prohibited from forwardly announcing song titles, broadcasting more than three songs from the same album or four songs from the same artist in a three-hour period, making archived webcasts of their shows available online for longer than two weeks and making those webcasts available for download."
The article points out that nothing in these restrictions will stop people from illegally downloading music, but they will serve to create an annoyance for the DJs who put together the programs for this station, and for listeners. Making shows available to download as podcasts, seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do to build up a fanbase. But... not allowed. The whole thing about preventing three songs from an album or four songs from the same artist in a three-hour period is the RIAA's ham-fisted way of trying to stop DJs from playing a whole album straight -- but it also kills off programs dedicated to a single artist. The article mentions, for example, how the University of Michigan's radio station can no longer air a radio show it used to have, dedicated to Duke Ellington. When I was in college, our student-run station had a show dedicated to the Beatles, which I imagine also could not be run today under these rules. Now, the article doesn't mention that there apparently are some ways to get waivers for these restrictions, but they appear to only be in very limited cases, and the details are somewhat secretive.

Yet another case of the DMCA putting in place ridiculous restrictions that do nothing to actually stop unauthorized copying.

Filed Under: copyright, dmca, radio

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous, 2 Nov 2010 @ 10:23am

    I go back a ways with radio. I remember riding my bike to school listening to a transistor radio, right after they first came on market.

    I went to FM when commercials got really bad. But in the old days, there was no telling what you would hear on the air. Some new local artist might go butter up the DJ and get his tune on the air. Heard many of them played that way. Variety was something you expected and got.

    When I went to FM radio, you could hear specials where an artist was featured, often with that artist's comments on the tune aired. Simulcasts were done where you got the audio from the FM stereo and the visual on TV.

    You heard new stuff all the time. It kept music alive. There was interest in the new stuff and frequently drove the listeners into the record stores to get that newly exposed artists offerings.

    The internet and webcasts almost got to be the new way to hear music. It would have had not the RIAA and the other entrenched establishments not gotten in the way of it.

    Now there is not much of a way to hear new music. It's the land of the replay. No wonder there is not such a driving market anymore for the music scene. How many times you gonna buy the same song?

    Making it prohibitively costly plus orneriness to follow the law or the rules only encourages them to be broken more times than not. If you get around the net, there are tons, literally tons, of private, non-advertised, webcasts. Places where you can hear old tunes never played now or new tunes you haven't heard before.

    I'm not preaching for it, just saying it's a direct result of this absurdity.

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