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Please note that I am not a lawyer, and do not pretend to know everything about this subject. I did spend several weeks looking into this matter for our stream, so I do have a little knowledge, but not enough for it to be considered good legal advice.
Here’s what I read about:
#1 ASCAP, BMI, & SESAC represent the ARTISTS, and represent their copyright of the musical notes and the lyics.
#2 RIAA (paid through SoundExchange or SX as it is often refered to) represents the recording companies and their copyrights to the media that the music is recorded onto.
In order for a public performance on the web, you must pay for the music and the media (both #1 and #2). It gets even more cluttered when you start looking at “ephemeral” recordings, and recordings stored on hard drives, and on demand content. Why don’t broadcasters have to pay RIAA when they broadcast the music… Because they started before the RIAA formed, and they are “grandfathered” in without payment (the RIAA is not happy about this).
Now all of us that use a computer to play back our music make ephemeral recordings. The RIAA says that this is OK for a radio station as long as the music is not stored for more than 6 months, if stored longer they want more money. If the content is a live (public) stream, they want their money for public performance. The only time that they say they do not want money is for a live performance in your studio (you then become the recording company). You do have to file an election with the copyright board to elect to pay royalties (link on the SX website)
Now it also gets different with a stream because the BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC want a performance fee for your small webcast, where they don’t care about part 15 broadcast. In truth I didn’t look into SESAC too much because when I sent them an email, they looked up our current license and told me that as long as our stream came from college owned servers, I could do just about anything I wanted on or off campus. ASCAP has a form on their website, and I forget what BMI has. Once I found out we were covered I pretty much stopped looking.
How all this relates to a “closed” transportation backbone like what you propose I have no idea. I would say that the less you talk aboutit, the better off you would be. I’m sure that the RIAA would want money for an ephemeral recording, not sure about the artist companies since the end product would be part 15 broadcast. I’m sure if you really start looking and asking, the RIAA wants money for syndicated shows distributed on CD, as you are once again making a recording of the copyrighted works.
I often refer to this whole thing as a legal minefield. And all I am saying is that you need to be careful about how you talk about these kinds of things, and the links that you drop. Remember that the RIAA knows how to use google just as well as anyone else. I think forming a network of part 15 stations is a good idea, just becareful how you talk about the transport of the content.
And yes I still do not know how the RIAA thinks they can collect for an all talk stream. If I am producing all content (talking) and have a contract for the production music that allows for other recordings (like most do), in my mind they can STUFF IT! It’s my content, and I own all the rights to it. Next thing they will do is try to get money from every religious stream because the Bible must be copyright somewhere… They are just a little too greedy for my tastes. ASCAP, BMI, SESAC are very reasonable for education, religious, and most non-commercial uses, I just wish the RIAA would be similar.