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. icon
    charliebrown (profile), 2 Nov 2010 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I've been reading up on this a LOT in the last year as a friend of mine wishes to run an online radio station based in Australia for Australians and he is even obtaining the legla licenses to broadcast in Australia. The license also covers numerous other countries by default but not the US.

    Whilst helping him to find out what he needs to know, it transpired that a web radio staion that is available in the US - REGARDLESS OF WHERE IT IS ORIGINATING FROM OR WHO IT IS MARKETED TO - must still abide by the RIAA rules or face being sued. Even if not intended for the US market, if somebody in the US is able to tune in to it, the station must be licensed in the US or geoblocked from the US.

    Funny.... I thought each country had it's own laws. An Australian citizen webcasting in Australia for an Australian audience but who cannot afford geoblocking software - heck, the license fee alone is breaking his bank but he's still going for it! - but he must abide by US law because somebody in the US can listen?

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