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DNAlounge.com: Webcasting Legally

Jan 01, 2001, 13:35 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jamie Zawinski)

"Today's word is "labyrinthine." Keep it in mind. The laws related to the reproduction and distribution of music are very complicated, and there are a number of different organizations responsible for collecting royalties on behalf of the artists. In order to operate an internet radio station legally, one has to deal with a lot of different groups. I'm going to try and explain how all this works (in the United States, at least), but it's going to take a while. I'll start off with some definitions. ... If you want to operate an internet radio station legally, you need to do these things:

  1. Follow the play limits and other restrictions on content mentioned in the DMCA, and summarized above;
  2. Fill out the licensing forms from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, and send each of them at least a couple hundred dollars a year;
  3. Fill out the webcasting licensing form for RIAA, and expect them to start hitting you with a large bill some time next year."
"If you want to do something different, for example, if you want to let users choose the songs to download, or you want to archive dj sets, or you want to allow the world at large to collaboratively dj by voting on what song to play next, or anything at all interactive that actually takes advantage of the power of the internet: well... you're... [out of luck]. When you go into that world, you are out of the "compulsory license" territory, and must negotiate with all of the copyright holders individually, which is prohibitively complicated, since there are so many of them."

"What's going on here is that the music industry establishment are absolutely terrified of the internet, and are trying to prevent any kind of progress that might require them to evolve and change their business models to keep up with the times. They are pretty much trying to legislate the internet out of the way, and force things to continue to be done as if early-20th-century technology was still all we have to work with."

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