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Copyright Office Proposes Webcasting Regs 298

deadsquid writes: "Streaming to a desktop near you, the death knell of online radio stations. Continuing to pave the money trail the RIAA and others claim to be theirs and theirs alone, the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel has released their ideas on what webcasters should pay to re-broadcast copyrighted material over the Internet. A good summary can be found at the Radio and Internet Newsletter, which provides an outline of what hoops net broadcasters must jump through, in addition to what they must pay. To say the rates are ridiculous is an understatement, and the amount of information required from the broadcaster to the copyright holder is ludicrous. The cost of bandwidth and delivery is already high enough, and this ruling, if upheld, kinda removes any hope of surmounting operating costs and continuing on. " Webcasters will have to report a great deal of information about their listeners according to the reporting requirements that the Copyright Office has proposed.

I thought I'd just summarize briefly for people who don't follow these issues:

Copyright law gives the record companies the right to prevent others from making copies of "their" music, except in certain cases where there is a "compulsory license" written into the law. In these cases, the record companies can't prevent anyone from using "their" music, but there is a mandatory fee that they must get paid. This "compulsory license" scheme was meant to keep the music industry from taking over the radio industry by simply refusing to license their music to certain radio stations (ones that didn't play ball, naturally). The U.S. Copyright Office sets the fees and revises them occasionally.

So the same idea was applied to webcasting music. In theory, this keeps the record companies from eliminating all-but-one or all-but-a-couple of the webcasters - anyone can webcast, you just have to pay the fee. However, if the record industry has too much influence over the process, they might try things like getting "compulsory license" fees set very high, or making sure that the record-keeping requirements are so onerous that it's impossible to comply with them.

In effect, this eliminates the "compulsory license" - because it's economically infeasible to comply with it. Webcasters can still seek individual licenses from the record companies, but this gets back to the original problem - the record companies have no obligation to make life easy for the nascent webcaster.

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Copyright Office Proposes Webcasting Regs

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  • This is so crazy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FakePlasticDubya ( 472427 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:39PM (#3041419) Homepage
    This is outrageous. I am the manager of a non-commercial station at a High School, and we just recently began netcasting. We already pay over $3000 a year in license fees to play music on the normal airwaves. Now we have to pay even more to play the same music over the internet? I don't understand, either we have a license to play it or not...

    And anyway, how is it that we have to pay large fees to promote their music? We are non-commercial, we get nothing out of it! What is going on? A long time ago, there was the whole "Payola" scandal where the record companies paid stations to play certain records. Now it's the other way around? This is insane. We will have to stop netcasting because of this, and that makes me so angry.
  • Re:Great :^) (Score:2, Interesting)

    by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:46PM (#3041447) Homepage
    I'm sorry to say this, as I like the idea of file sharing programs as much as the next guy, but they are usually used without any license at all and are illegal. The RIAA rips off both musicians and their fans, but pirating their music off these programs still rips off the musicians and is just plain wrong.

    What we need is a system that rips off neither the musicians nor the fans, not one that promotes illegal activity (yes, there are rightful uses for file sharing programs, but usually they are for illegal music and software and movies, as can be seen by watching incoming searches).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:59PM (#3041509)
    I have setup a MS streaming audio server at my house, so I can listen to a radio station in Michigan where ever I am. You just plug in a radio to the audio in port, then use Real audio or MS streaming server to stream it out to your work computer or laptop whereever you are in the world.
  • by gotscheme ( 246456 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:08PM (#3041551)
    Could we be more careful in making such strong assertions? Firstly, WHO's right to speech and expression is being trampled? Generally, artists make little or no profit. If you are saying that since radio stations will be more squeezed by this proposal, causing artists to go out of business, they already have. Since when is the American Way disregarded when the sheep (read: non-Slashdotters?) buy commercialized music, and since when does commercial media make the listeners' preferences tasteless? Look back on the history of music. Many of the songs we may cherish dearly today were commercial successes because of commercial backing. It's fine to boycott RIAA affiliated works, but you will probably punish the artists more than record companies. To say the RIAA is causing more harm to the "American Way of Life" than any terrorist organization is plain stupid. Music is a rather important element of life in the United States, but to many people does not make the core of their existence. Remember that most people only have time for the Top 40. They would rather be engaging in activities other than downloading music or listening to webcasts. I agree the corporate structure in the United States/abroad is getting too strong, and may result in a curtailing of freedoms, but let's remember that devices such as copyright laws, education, telecommunications infrastructure, highways, and the like come with restrictions so that they remain in place to maintain stability.
  • Re:Lets not forget (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dyolf Knip ( 165446 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:08PM (#3041555) Homepage
    The very concept of an R&D department for a company is odd; "Let's spend money so as to make our current products and procedures obsolete, and then have to spend more money changing the equipment and retraining the employees."

    But it never ceases to amaze me the gaping difference between companies like Intel and even Microsoft, whose existence practically centers around the obsolecence of their old products, and the member companies of the RIAA, who not only aren't interested in R&D but rather employ a large and expensive workforce, their lawyers, to try and maintain the technological status quo. An Anti-R&D, you might call it.

  • by rbeattie ( 43187 ) <> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:21PM (#3041601) Homepage
    I just was reading this today and thinking what a crock.

    Microsoft Program Tracks User Info []

    ..."As part of downloading the information about songs and movies from the Web site, the program also transmits an identifier number unique to each user on the computer. That creates the possibility that user habits could be tracked and sold for marketing purposes."...


  • Re:BMI and stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:22PM (#3041607)
    Everyone here is confusing various copyright issues:

    A "SONG" that you hear on the radio consists of two separate components (1) a "composition" or the written music/lyrics/etc., and (2) a "sound recording" which is the band's recorded performance.

    Ok, the rights in each, for traditional purposes (ie, broadcast radio) work like this:

    (1) for the composition, there are "public performance" rights - you have to get a license in order to perform the composition to the public (ie, play it on the radio). Most copyright holders have agreed to let ASCAP/BMI handle these licenses and collect license fees.

    (2) for the sound recording, there are no public performance rights, so the sound recording rights holder doesn't get money for airplay (and bar's, clubs, etc.).

    Ok, the new law - it doesn't change the above for "traditional" performances, but does change it for digital performances via the internet, etc. (ie "webcasting"). The new law creates a public performance right for the sound recording. Ok, so you have to get a new license if you are a webcaster - from the sound recording rights holder. In other words you have to get the ASCAP/BMI license for the performance of the composition (nothing new, you always did), AND a license for the performance of the sound recording (new).

    The new sound recording public performance right/license is subject to a "compulsory" license - ie, the record company (or whoever holds the sound recording rights) can't say no, but they are entitled to the statutory license (the rates in the article). If these rates are too high, of course, the effect is the same - they can say no by making it too expensive for anyone to ever actually do it.

    All clear?

    Just for some more legal fun, the other older "compulsory" license is different - it applies to the creation of copies of records (cd's, etc.) - in such a case, you would need the permission of both rights holders. This "compulsory" license fee is only for the composition, not the sound recroding. Of course the sound recording rights holder is usually the one making the copies, so it doesn't matter.

  • by shoppa ( 464619 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:32PM (#3041650)
    And a listener's log listing: 1) The name of the service or entity 2) The channel or program 3) the date and time that the user logged in (the user's timezone) 4) the date and time that the user logged out (the user's timezone) 5) The time zone where the signal was received (user) 6) Unique User identifier 7) The country in which the user received the transmissions

    Don't most European countries already have internet privacy laws which protect users from many kinds of content logging?

  • by Talsan ( 515546 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:45PM (#3041731) Homepage
    At first glance, this sounds really bad, but it might not be enough to put all college stations off the air.

    I run a small college station in Chicago with a school supplied budget of $4000/year. We scrape together a few other dollars, and the school does provide electricity and legal services for free, but it's still tight...

    What I'm guessing the licensing companies will try to do is going to look like this:

    $0.0002/per performance + $500 or 9% of the per performance cost, whichever is greater.

    I would use these numbers to estimate the per year performances for us:

    15 songs/hour * 30 people/song * 24 hours * 365 days * $0.0002 = $788.40

    If this were all, we might be able to scrape together the extra funds, however we would have to add $1500 to that cost ($500 minimum fee to each of the 3 licensing companies). That's what's going to hurt us. That doesn't even take into account trying to report all that information... We don't have to deal with nearly that much information even when we're in a reporting weekend!

    I contrast, we currently pay under $1000 per year for the licenses to play the music over the air.

    But, I suppose there's still hope.


  • I pay you and my ISP exorbitant amounts of money (for licensing and bandwidth, respectively) so that I'm given the privilege of publicizing your artists.

    Not to mention, the "license to license" alone costs $500 yearly. The RIAA is manipulating our government so that they can prevent the general population from innovating, broadcasting, or even listening to stations not influenced by them. An example of these unfair regulations restricting the masses is a project of mine called laconica [sic] (it will soon have a web page further detailing it here [];'s development is behind schedule). Conceptually, it allows the listeners to control the stream by vote, comment on the music, create their own playlists (if the playlist is voted high enough, it begins streaming the next hour), and even upload their own music.

    Considering the fact that initialized is not for profit and we'd still pay for bandwidth by the gigabyte *after* the RIAA fees, our own laconica stream will most likely fail to become a reality. (We still plan to continue developing and release the software as open source, though.)
  • by darkphyber ( 175201 ) on Thursday February 21, 2002 @02:41AM (#3042922)
    In reading a section of the copyright law (17 U.S.C Section 114) there is a provision that would seem to exempt educational stations & public broadcasting stations from these fees.

    "The exclusive rights of the owner of copyright in a sound recording under clauses (1), (2), and (3) of section 106 do not apply to sound recordings included in educational television and radio programs (as defined in section 397 of title 47) distributed or transmitted by or through public broadcasting entities (as defined by section 118(g)): Provided, That copies or phonorecords of said programs are not commercially distributed by or through public broadcasting entities to the general public." l# 114

    It still doesn't help other stations, but at least it's a start..

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