- February 27, 2019 at 7:00 am #109856
Total posts : 14
- March 1, 2019 at 9:31 pm #109912
Wasn’t able to read the article without membership, but was able to watch the video which was superb.
- April 5, 2019 at 4:39 pm #110771
Here’s a link I was able to read: CALLING ALL OLDIES STATIONS!
It seems to refer to some kind of legalization of playing pre 1972 music without being sued.. I don’t quite grasp what it is saying, but the deadline for comments is on April 9 only days away..
“…Interestingly, the Copyright Office does not discuss on this web page the reasons why a service would want to provide notice of contact information but instead focuses on a separate filing provision applicable to copyright owners… Once April 9 has passed, there is no further opportunity for a service to receive these protections.”
- April 6, 2019 at 7:52 am #110788
Copyright laws in the U.S. are a dogs breakfast.
This is definitely a biased article, but it does explain the issue.
- April 6, 2019 at 8:49 am #110789
Total posts : 1540
Looking For / Haven’t Found
KDX is looking for a website that reports on all legal claims, actions, lawsuits and the like, against streaming radio stations being accused of using copyrighted music without appropriate licensing.
It would be like the FCC Enforcement Action sites, only for music licensing issues.
There are streaming radio stations that avoid using copyrighted music thus intending to avoid the responsibility that goes with licensing, but one sees no mention of these stations in any posts we’ve seen on the subject. We are given the (false) impression that ALL streaming stations must pay royalties.
- April 7, 2019 at 5:21 am #110805
Actually, all streaming stations must pay royalties. UNLESS the music presented is in the Public Domain AND performed by YOU, or someone YOU hired.
This is often an area of confusion. Just because the SONG is in the public domain, does not mean the PERFORMANCE is. This isn’t a big deal over the air, but it IS if you’re streaming.
Terrestrial radio pays royalties for the song only. Only the song writers get paid. Streaming pays this AND an additional royalty for the performers of the song. That is what Sound Exchange collects. Royalties for the performers.
e.g. if you play the Beatles doing “Twist and Shout” on your streaming station Phil Medley and Bert Burns would receive the royalties for the SONG (they wrote it), and the Beatles would receive the royalty for the performance. If you only played it over the air, Phil and Bert would get paid but the Beatles wouldn’t.
If you play Beethovens Fifth Symphony by the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra on your streaming station, no one gets a royalty for the SONG, as it’s well into public domain territory. BUT Sound Exchange will still come calling for a royalty for the orchestra.
If you play “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” by Bruce Springsteen on your streaming station, you would pay royalties for the song AND the performance even though the song is in the public domain! Why? Because the ORIGINAL lyrics to the song are PD, but additional lyrics were added later, so if you sing the later lyrics your version is NOT PD. Additionally, the Springsteen version’s arrangement is different enough, with additional lyrics, that Bruce can claim a new version. Hence, NOT PD. This shows how complicated it can get!
But the impression is correct that ALL streaming stations, even with all public domain music, are liable for royalties to the artists for the performance. The only way around this is if YOU are singing or playing the public domain songs yourself, or musicians YOU HIRED are playing it under “work for hire” laws and you own the performance they are providing because you are paying them to provide it.
I don’t know that it would be possible to report on all legal claims, as streamers are taken down by the thousands every single day for violating copyright. There are millions of streams out there. Tune In alone has over 100,000 broadcast stations and networks from around the world on the service, and 4 million programs and podcasts as well. Add to that the hundreds of other like services and those who stream without a dedicated provider or with their own server. Copyright takedowns happen every minute of every day. The FCC sites are easy — they involve one agency. Copyright violations can be enforced by hundreds of thousands of sources, from individual copyright holders to publishers, record company, artists, writers, etc. And since streaming stations are not under any one specific jurisdiction (Like the FCC for broadcast) there’s no way to gather the data. Legal claims for infringement can start with a simple letter from an artist or lawyer. Claims, actions, lawsuits can happen in thousands of different cities, counties, states, etc. Most people who are caught illegally streaming get shutdown by their ISP or the streaming service they are using to provide their stream. Most don’t get to the level of a court battle.
- April 6, 2019 at 2:23 pm #110796
Artisan, I don’t think that’s quite the same thing.. that article is 5 years old, the above linked article is recent and seems to relate to a different proposal of which the deadline for stations to achieve the rights to play without infringement must be submitted by the 9th of this month or else your not protected..
- April 7, 2019 at 5:35 am #110806
Remember, all this jibber-jabber about pre 1972 song copyrights applies only to the PERFORMANCE of the songs, NOT the songs themselves.
They’re trying to get away without paying the performers for the actual sound recording royalties (what you pay to Sound Exchange).
This has no application to terrestrial radio — broadcasting only pays song WRITERS — e.g. the copyright holders of the songs themselves. This all applies ONLY to streaming, and satellite, and only to royalties to performers, not writers.
You’ll notice the article talks about STREAMING royalties — specifically talking about satellite and internet/streaming radio. THEY pay royalties for the PERFORMANCE and it’s the performance — the sound recording itself, that does not have federal copyright prior to 1972. NOT the SONG.
So this would not effect over the air royalties at all, only streaming royalties that are paid to the performers for the rights to the recording.
Also, note that filing this form as described does NOT prevent you from getting sued or paying damages, nor does it let you stream older songs for free. But it will prevent them from suing you for PAST infringements, and give you 90 days to rectify any later infringements before you can get sued. So you get some past forgiveness, and 90 days to rectify once you’re busted. It does not give you free use of oldies.
And the headline “Attention Oldies Stations” isn’t really applicable as it applies to streaming royalties only (well, and satellite radio but I doubt any of us are on satellite radio) and terrestrial radio does not pay royalties to performers anyway.
- April 7, 2019 at 6:21 am #110809
Total posts : 1540
I Think It’s More Complicated Than That
Just to let all the readers of this website know who we are and what we’re talking about, we are very fortunate to have Tim in Bovey weigh in on these complex copyright issues particularly involving internet streaming. I agree fully with everything Tim has described and believe it is all true and correct.
As intricate and complex as all of it is, I think there’s yet more to it that doesn’t seem to be reflected in what Tim says.
What I try to bring into the conversation are other dimensions that probably don’t come across Tim’s day-to-day experience because it involves other forms of content that don’t occur in the commercial radio world.
Let’s take a single program, let’s say the news program “Between the Lines”, which is mostly voice content and requires only the permission of the producer to stream, but the program also uses theme music, but they commission original music that becomes owned entirely by the news producer in all aspects, including composition and performance.
There are “buy out” music libraries commonly purchased by program producers that comes with all rights which extend to non-commercial carriers of those programs and are outside of the licensing required by publishers, performers and recordists.
There are online “free music” sources that can be downloaded and used by streaming stations which require no royalty payments and give stations the power to have their own program themes, bridges, bumpers and music fills at no cost.
There are Creative Commons and other licensing mechanisms that make it possible for programs to be made available to non-commercial stations free of royalty concerns.
Some classical program sources collect all permissions from musicians and composers and own their own recording facilities to make program series available to stations.
Every year the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival out of WWOZ makes live concerts available to affiliate stations. WWOZ collects all permissions, makes the recordings which they own, and is able to provide the music free to non-commercial stations. Sometimes even “name” artists that are widely popular in the record arena are heard, but only when those artists enter into agreements to make their work available to the Jazz Festival. Artists who do not enter into these agreements are not broadcast.
There is a large universe of legal music not controlled by the publishers and other rights agencies, but of course most of the stations in this part 15 world want the record hits in their commercial market form which obligates those stations to pay streaming royalties.
Another category called INDY music (Independent Music) intentionally exists outside of the royalty confines for the very purpose of being available for performance without compensation by non-commercial outlets.
To further numb the brain we mention “fair use” which was devised to make it simple for producers to use music to build a program in a non-commercial academic documentary educational form, but when challenged it stops being simple and gets expensive to defend.
All this being so what I think streamers still need to be wary about are bogus claims by the copyright mafia; claims of infringement that are dishonest and predatory, knowing that small-timers cannot afford to prove their innocence.
- This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by Carl Blare.
- April 7, 2019 at 4:35 pm #110813
Total posts : 231
Some Album Rock material is available through Creative commons
There was a big write up when the RIAA started their sue them all campaigns about certain artists in which have put their music on Creative commons for file sharing. If you don’t want to go through that with your quarter mile-2 mile stations and feel the paranoia you could ease your mind that way.
Canada does seem more Realistic in all of this copywright mafia stuff we deal with.
- April 8, 2019 at 4:30 am #110817
Carl is right, there are various aberrations in the world of music licensing. However organizations that obtain rights such as he mentions above are few and far between. And still, they have to have the ability to license song and performance.
The licenses of these uses are for those specific performances only, and often the fine print includes that the station airing them be licensed through BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. The fact that stations are licensed thusly is assumed by most.
And yes, there’s a ton of “production music” out there. I’ve been collecting production music libraries for decades. The various companies offer varying licenses, from buy outs to specific licenses for a certain amount of time. Again, you have to read the agreements closely. Many buy outs still limit you to a specific geographical area or market. Of course the very concept of a buy out is that you don’t have any licensing costs, but those are usually meaning no specific costs to the company — many buy outs assume your station is licensed to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC and the authors of that production music is getting paid for that writing, as a tiny piece of your fees to those organizations, but the companies only income is from the buyout.
There are a thousand variations on this. For example a company that offers a production library for barter — they provide the library in exchange for airtime, which they then sell to various companies and then send the ads to the stations for airplay. This is pretty common. We had one that did this and as long as the station remained with them, they provided additional music by sending more CD’s every month or so as long as the barter continued.
The variations in agreements and licenses for production music are as varied as the day is long. Oft times they may be a buy out, or a barter, or whatever, but you are limited to using them on your stations only. Which means if your station provides dubs to other stations in the market (pretty common around here) those other stations don’t have the rights to air production music from the library you licensed. Sometimes it’s OK.
Yes, there are countless variations. But for the most part stations playing any sort of commercial music you’re gonna need to license appropriately.
Remember, the RIAA lawsuits were not for playing, streaming or performing music, but for illegal sharing of copyrighted material. Mostly exchanging mp3 files of music via the internet. Ahh yes… the RIAA, the only company that regularly sues their best customers. Remember the good ol’ days when the RIAA went after people making cassettes of their favorite albums? Or sharing “mix tapes”. Remember when they were successful in getting a “tax” added onto the sales of blank cassettes, allegedly to distribute the money to artists? I believe they actually called it a “levy”. They later managed to get a levy added to the sales of blank music CD’s and CD recorders. Heck, when they first came out you couldn’t buy a CD recorder unless you could show you were going to use it in business (e.g. studio, radio station, etc) and they were only advertised in industry catalogs. Then they added the levy and made them available to the public — I *think* it was 2% on blank CD’s and 3% on the recorders, but it could be the other way around. Remember when the store sold “Data CD’s” and “Music CD’s”? The Music CD blanks had to pay the tax, data CD’s didn’t. Until people figured out the CD’s themselves were the same thing and you could certainly record music on a data CD which was often just a tad cheaper.
Ah, yes. It’s a complicated world out there!
BTW the levy on blank cassettes is still in effect as well.
- April 8, 2019 at 1:32 pm #110824
Have just finished researching all this and talking to all the PROs, etc.
SESAC: don’t know, can’t get ahold of them for my life.
BMI: they have a specific Part 15 plan for licensing. I think all said and told it averages out to about $400/yr
ASCAP: $261 for streaming, terrestrial is FREE.
SoundExchange: $500 for starters, if you go over that based on your listeners then you pay more.
Hope that helps.
- April 8, 2019 at 2:15 pm #110825
Total posts : 231
If you use StreamLicensing or Live 365 your music licensing is covered a lot cheaper!!
StreamLicensing covers BMI, SESAC, Sound Exchange, ASCAP, SOCAN (For recordings out of Canada). Not too sure about Live 365.
It doesn’t make sense that I’ll have to get a sponsor for part 15’s music licensing for BMI at that rate. I wonder who is worse?
In a way I hope the NAB wins and this all stops for terrestrial Radio. No Radio means no promotion. No promotion means the kiddo’s won’t hear your stuff and this also means you starve because it takes a LOT of repetitive airplay to sink a song into the heads of young adults younger than 35-40 I get that. But older folks will turn to music with more diverse catalogs.
- April 8, 2019 at 3:20 pm #110826
Keith’s info. on the licensing in the USA is surprising to me as I assume that BMI and Sound Exchange costs apply to over the air Part 15? That’s quite expensive between the two of them. They actually knew what part 15 was and have a plan for it?
When I checked with the three here in Canada, quite a while ago now, they don’t know what BETS-1 is(the Canadian version of part 15). There was no plan for this and they all told me that, so no license fees or record keeping is needed here for over the air radio. Only commercial stations or streaming.
- April 8, 2019 at 3:46 pm #110828
I called each of the 4 US organizations personally. I have found that the extra hassle of going through phone menus to get to a human has a bigger payoff than e-mail or other communications.
I guess I should’ve mentioned this in my earlier post, but each PRO has a license fee for terrestrial and streaming… so 2 fees for each company.
Again, SESAC has never answered me; not the messages I left, nor the e-mails I sent.
When I called BMI, the gentleman I spoke to said that they (BMI) was asked by the Part15 community for a plan specific to that type of radio. I don’t recall off hand how much it was, but it was as ‘cheap’ (or a hair more expensive) than a non-profit license. But the terrestrial and the streaming combined were about $400/yr.
ASCAP told me over the telephone they don’t have any Part15 specific anything. To them it’s commercial radio. Oddly enough though, for their purposes, they don’t care at all about terrestrial. Guy told me to jam all I want. But streaming, as we know, was a different matter and I am pretty sure it was $261/yr.
SoundExchange says their system works like a prepaid credit card: you pay them upfront $500/yr. And then based on your listeners or listening hours (I don’t believe station income is involved at all), they debit that $500 every month. If you go over, they send you a bill. You re-up every year.
So, not including SESAC it’s roughly $1200 a year. Add your streaming service, roughly $100/mo. Not cheap, but not bad I reckon. SESAC is probably much more pricey as they are a for profit company.
- April 9, 2019 at 8:45 am #110842
- April 8, 2019 at 3:33 pm #110827
I like the idea of streamlicensing, but there seems to be an awful lot to have to deal with with them. Downloading certain things of theirs and all that. I confess, I might not understand their system entirely, however, just opening an account with someone and being able to make my yearly payment seems easy enough. I had also heard that they have had some issues from time to time with getting everything covered.
I’m also not sure how I feel about having to make changes to a website in order to accommodate my player. I am already not net savvy anyway (see my other post on needing website help). Also, depending on your station income and your listener count, the monthly cost, after a certain level, is the same or more.
- April 9, 2019 at 9:07 am #110843
To make things even more complicated, each country has different copyright laws. If you are located entirely in one country (corporately or individually), and stream from a server in that country, then only that country’s laws apply to you. So you can’t, as an example, live in the U.S. and then stream from a server in Canada using Canada’s laws – the copyright police will go after you in the U.S.
It is entirely possible to stream and broadcast over the air using public domain music in Canada. You won’t be able to use the latest hits, but then, why would you want to if you’re trying to be different than those licensed stations that everyone slams?
Virtually all classical music recorded and released in 1964 and earlier is in the public domain in Canada (both performances and obviously the music). A great deal of vintage jazz (recording and released in 1964 and earlier) is in the public domain as well, although it takes some research to determine whether the music itself is (copyright exists for 50 years past the death of the last person involved in its creation – there are databases that one can check, although I also do further checking, as sometimes the results are suspect).
There are a smattering of oldies recorded in 1964 or prior that are in the public domain, but for me it’s just too much hassle to do the research on the life of the composers, and there are too many variables. In a lot of cases, musicians have gone to court to get back the rights to music, as the business practices of promoters and record labels in that era was dubious at best (fraudulently taking credit for song compositions).
When I operated a Part 15 station in Canada as a business, and took sponsorship money, I was informed by SOCAN to license myself as a non commercial radio station (which also gave me the right to stream). So while SOCAN and the other licensing bodies here may not care about over the air BETS broadcasters who don’t have income, they may care if you stream, or even if you are operating as a business.
- April 9, 2019 at 9:49 am #110844
Keith’s breakdown of the costs is good to know. $100 a month just for the streaming provider and $1200+ an unknown amount. VERY expensive and reaffirms my position with streaming. Canada is not near as bad(expensive) but there’s the cost of the provider also.
I will stick to over the air radio.
It must be very time consuming and painstaking work to go through individual songs to find out if they are in the public domain. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
- April 11, 2019 at 4:40 am #110859
- April 9, 2019 at 8:39 pm #110845
It’s actually not too bad for classical music, as most composers are long dead (well past the 50 years mandated in the copyright laws), and so you don’t have to worry about the music itself. Canada changed the performance copyright laws in 2015 to extend them to 75 years after release, but anything in the public domain already wasn’t affected. Prior to that, performance copyrights lasted 50 years, so anything recorded in 1964 and earlier is in the public domain.
The TPP was supposed to extend music copyrights to 75 years past the death of the last composer, and that change was mostly at the insistence of the U.S. The U.S. (i.e., Trump) then pulled out of the agreement, and I don’t believe the modified agreement, signed by the 13 remaining countries in 2018 (including Canada), did anything with copyrights. I haven’t seen anything at any rate.
You’re right, though, that it’s extremely tedious to determine whether more modern music is in the public domain. Performances, particularly those released on record (or CD, or whatever), are easy. SOCAN has a publicly available database that is somewhat accurate, but I’ve found numerous errors (i.e., songs NOT in the database that were composed by individuals who were still alive and breathing past 1964). I’ve also found songs that were listed as copyrighted when all the composers had passed away prior to 1964, and according to the laws, should be in the public domain. To be safe, I passed on those, as there could have been litigation to put the songs back under copyright. Finally, there are a lot of songs that just aren’t in the database, period, regardless of copyright status, mostly European.
So my process for jazz was to look the song up in the SOCAN database. If found, then stop. If not found, then research all known composers to ensure that none survived past 1964 (sounds somewhat ghoulish, I admit, but it’s necessary).
It takes a lot of time, and that’s why I’ve moved on to a classical (supplemented by Old Time Radio) format.
- This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by ArtisanRadio.
- April 10, 2019 at 3:55 am #110848
LOL, it was about time for a nice long music licensing thread to pop up again!
When I first started my station 5 years ago, and doing everything humanly possible to make sure I was clearly technically and legally blatantly legal, I contacted all the music rights outfits, BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. By all methods available. Phone, Email, letter. BMI was the easiest, as they have a Part 15 form/contract on their website. Fill out, enclose a check, you’re done. The current license fee for year with BMI is $265. This covers TERRESTRIAL broadcasting. The also offer an internet rider that allows you to STREAM BMI licensed music for one year for an additional $153. Note this streaming rider does NOT cover Sound Exchange fees, only the BMI fees — two different things. These forms are at:
Of course many (most I’ll bet) scoff at paying any music license and don’t bother. And yes, you pay even if you make no money. If you make over the limit (I believe it’s over $16,000 yearly) you pay a higher rate. My station pays a higher rate.
My conversations with SESAC resulted in me being declared both “experimental” and “educational” and I was told no licensing fee was necessary, They confirmed this by letter.
After several email exchanges and phone conversations with ASCAP they told me no license was needed for Part 15 and this was also confirmed in writing.
I keep these letters and BMI license contract in the station files.
SoundExchange ONLY applies to streaming licenses.
Note that ALL the PRO’s (performing rights organizations) require an ADDITIONAL license if you are streaming, in ADDITION to Sound Exchange. So if you buy the BMI website rider for $153 that covers the use of the SONGS but not the performance, you STILL must pay Sound Exchange for the PERFORMANCE.
So the breakdown:
For over the air use ONLY you pay BMI, and ASCAP and SESAC are freebies. Over the air use only pays the song writers.
If you STREAM you must also have an additional license from BMI, ASCAP and SESAC for streaming rights to the songs (and yes. all three will want money for this) AND you must ALSO pay Sound Exchange for the rights to the PERFORMANCE of the song (the actual recording). Do not be mislead into believing the BMI web rider allows you to stream BMI songs — it gives you the rights to the songs but not the performance of those songs, which is collected by Sound Exchange.
Remember the “oldies” clause about the pre-1972 songs ONLY applies to the PERFORMANCE of the songs — you might get away with not paying Sound Exchange for playing oldies (still legal questions there) but you will certainly have to pay the PRO’s for the rights to the songs themselves, unless the songs go back to before 1922.
Remember, the Sound Exchange costs are based on your number of listeners and total time you were listened to. So there is no flat rate. You have to provide them with an accurate accounting of every song played, how many people listened, and for how long they listened. This is a big part of why signing up for a stream service like StreamLicensing or Live 365 is popular — they keep track of all this data and report it for you. You pay one company for everything, and they do the data collection.
I can’t remember specifically, but I looked at Live 365 and there was one reason that made them completely unsuitable for my station. I can’t remember what, but there was an immediate deal-breaker. StreamLicensing was a possibility however. But at this time I still have no intention to start streaming. Never have.
So, there’s the USA quagmire.
- April 10, 2019 at 7:08 am #110852
TIB’s summary is (in the USA), a little easier to do as only BMI ($265 a year) is needed for over the air only part 15.
That is affordable but I don’t know what is required in the way of keeping a log of what is played for BMI. Do they just require a log sometimes, all the time? With me that would be the biggest hurdle.
- April 10, 2019 at 5:34 pm #110853
BMI’s logging requirements are spelled out in the agreement:
“8. Upon reasonable notice, Part 15 Radio Broadcaster agrees to furnish BMI lists and certain required information concerning its performances of all musical works on forms provided by BMI. Such lists need not be furnished for more than one (1) week of each year of the term.”
Basically, once a year (at most) you’ll receive an envelope with a tablet of logging forms to write down music played over the period of one week. Also acceptable in modern times is a computer printout of songs played during the dates specified. You’ll receive this and be notified well in advance of the time period they would like you to log. Broadcast radio has been doing these for decades. Of course, now automated stations and stations where all the music is accessed off hard drive even when live, can simply submit a computer list. Easy Peasy.
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