DNAlounge.com: Webcasting Legally

“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

  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

“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

“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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