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Web Licensing for open source broadcast project

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by staticjacket, Aug 18, 2016.


Does this podcast sound like something you would tune into?

  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
  1. staticjacket

    staticjacket Active Member

    Hey ladies and gents! I was going through the forum and trying to take in what I can, this will definitely be a good resource for me going forward. I'm in the beginning stages of my open source broadcasting project. To sum it up, I have always wanted to do radio, but was discouraged by the limited choices in stations when I grew up. Not to mention, even if you do find a relatively hip radio station, you still have to adhere to some strict rules that I'm sure I wouldn't be into. I live in the Twin Cities, and do Building Automation for HVAC and lighting systems, and this project is something I could do in my spare time to see if I can will my dream into reality.

    So, I'm going to withhold the gritty details, but it's a program that is a hybrid of human interest and music broadcasting. I want to delve into the subjective connection individuals have to music, as well as highlight the fact that music breaks boundaries and brings us collectively together. This vision I have has to incorporate licensed music.

    Ideally, I would have the guests say the name of an artist or song, and I would like to be able to mix it it. Maybe not every single song will be able to be played given the licensing issue, but I've heard that you can get a license from BMI and ASPCA which should cover a majority of what I'm trying to do.

    I've also read how if you have music over voices, that is a separate license? How true is that? Because during intro I plan on doing monologues and would like to layer music underneath of it.

    I really would appreciate any and all knowledge of this subject, I tried getting an IP lawyer to help me navigate this tumultuous legal landscape, but she wanted 1500 dollars to even utter a word to me and estimated over 6 grand to make me bullet proof.

    Thank you!
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Most commercial stations, be they terrestrial or internet, will use what is known as a "blanket" or "umbrella" license, which allows them to play anything they want. For internet stations, the price of the license is dependent upon how many " total listening hours" ( TLH) your station broadcasts, along with the gross revenue you take in from advertisers.

    For talk radio, using no music, there are no licensing fees, apparently. Anyone can do a talk-only podcast for free.

    There are a few aggregates who claim to handle all the music licensing for you for one monthly fee, one does it for as low as $59 per month, with a one time $20 set up fee, which includes up to 4000 TLH and up to $20 gross revenue from advertisers, and the fee is stepped up from there, so if you decided you were going to broadcast up to 7000 TLH's, and you were taking in revenue with a cap at $350 gross, your monthly fee would be around $200 .... the link for this service is the first one below - although I need to make it clear here that I am not shilling for this service, and that I can't personally attest to their customer service, or legitimacy:


    This link below is a kind of FAQ site:

  3. staticjacket

    staticjacket Active Member

    Thank you for the info! I will be looking into that service. Im curious if while I'm not making ad revenue though, do I fall into a grey area, or do I still have to pay royalties? My kneejerk reaction is that it's worth paying for licensing even when I'm just trying to launch without sponsorship, rather than trying to do without and getting into legal trouble.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "My kneejerk reaction is that it's worth paying for licensing even when I'm just trying to launch without sponsorship, rather than trying to do without and getting into legal trouble"

    knee-jerk response - and I'll be the first to admit that I'm certainly no expert on the subject - is that any time you are using other people's works, you will need to pay for licensing of some kind; whether you are using advertisers or not, although some of what you want to do may fall under the "Fair Use" Act, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FAIR_USE_Act) but I believe that it's fairly limiting in its scope - meaning that you can only use excerpts of works, with finite durations ... you'd need to look up exactly what these limitations entail in relation to what you want to do.

    As a side note, I'll mention that I've found some of what is mentioned in the FUA to be a bit, well, "ambiguous"; when I read it last year, there appeared to be quite a bit of a grey area regarding what"fair use" exactly means...

    Section 3 of the Act:
    (III) Personal network
    Section (III) allows circumvention for the purpose of storing or transmitting media over a personal network, but explicitly prevents the uploading of media “to the Internet for mass, indiscriminate redistribution."[10]

    Section 5 of the Act:
    V) Public interest work and research
    Section (V) is similar to a broader version of the third prong of fair use. It allows circumvention that is carried out to gain access to a work of substantial public interest solely for the purposes of "criticism, comment, news reporting, scholarship, or research."[10]

    The language of Section (V) is ambiguous, which led some critics to worry that the language was too broad, potentially enabling students to circumvent copyright to access books, films, and music for coursework, or allowing professors to create course packs without obtaining permission from publishers.[18]

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FAIR_USE_Act


    It does kinda beg the question, though... if you aren't planning on using any advertisers for revenue, then how are you planning to make money at the venture?
    At the very least, you'll need to cover your operating expenses - somehow - I have no idea what those expenses would be; whether these expenses would include the cost of the necessary bandwidth, or the operating costs of your website...this would be something only you would know; unless of course, your plan is to create this "station" purely for the love of the idea alone - but even then, if you allow even one ad window/link click-thru to appear on your station's web site or media player, one would think that this would also qualify as "commercial advertising".

    Just thinking out loud...
  5. staticjacket

    staticjacket Active Member

    Well, I do plan on getting sponsored at some point. I know that for a while, if/until I can find my audience and get ad revenue, I will be funding this project with my own money and I'm going to set up a Squarespace landing page with a free-will donation.

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