VOW Support group for small commercial webcasters

Some history PRESS

1995 Congress passes the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act.
In essence, what this did was to create, for the first time, a "Sound Permance" copyright for digital audio. This means that the owners of the sound recording could charge for the public use of the recording. This is different than the "Musical Work" copyright, which is the written music and lyrics. This was limited to interactive and non-interactive subscription services.

1998 Congress passes the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA")
With respect to webcasting, the DMCA established the following rules...


Content Restrictions
  • No interactivity - Program can not be created for the user. Requested songs not played within the hour or at a specified time.
  • No more than 3 songs in a two hour period from the same album/CD
  • No more than 2 songs in a row from the same album/CD
  • No more than 4 songs in a two hour period from the same artist or box set
  • No more than 3 more than three songs in a row from the same artist.
  • No advance notice (published) of music, unless the format is classical and you have a history, prior to 1998 of doing it.
  • Archived programs must be at least 5 hours long and not available for more than 2 weeks.
  • Looped programs (accessed in progress) must be 3 hours or longer in duration.
  • May not repeat a program that is less than 1 hour more than 3x in a two week period. More than 1 hour? 4x in a 2 week period.
Web Interface
  • Webcasters can't force the users browser to change website.
  • Webcasters can't allow user, if feasible, from scanning for a particular song.
  • Webcasters can't encourage users to copy/record music. If webcasters use a system that helps to prevent recording of the webcast, webcasters must enable the copy prevention option.
  • No Bootlegs
  • If the sound recording contains anti copy technology, webcasters can not intentionally disable the technology.
  • Encoded copyright information in the sound recording can not "strip" copyright information from the sound recording.
  • Webcasters must identify, in written text, the song title, album title and artist.
  • * These are simplified versions of the actual regulations. Please read the full text for further clarification.
Cost of License

It is important to note that the above is in reference to a "statutory" license. This means that you are entitled to this license, but not obligated to its terms, if you negotiate a deal with the copyright holder(s). It also means that the rate you pay is either negotiated privately, or determined by a rate set through arbitraion.

  • The DMCA does not specify a rate. It allows for private deals to be made. In the absence of private deals, parties may ask the Copyright Office for an arbitration. This is done through a Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel ("CARP").
  • A CARP must, according to the DMCA, set rates based on a willing buyer/willing seller premise.
    The DMCA does not specify the recordkeeping requirements. It does call upon the Copyright Office to determine rates and terms. More on this later.

November 27, 1998. Pursuant to the six-month voluntary negotiation provision of the DMCA, the Librarian initiated a voluntary negotiation period covering the timeframe October 28, 1998 through December 31, 2000.

September 20, 1999, the Copyright Office directed webcasters, that wish to rely upon the compulsory license, to file a notice with the Copyright Office by October 15, 1999 or, if they had not yet launched, prior to their first transmission.

September 27, 1999. In response to a request of the RIAA, the Copyright Office, issues a Notice and Schedule for the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP).

January 13, 2000. The Librarian initiated a second six-month period for the parties to negotiate voluntary rates and terms covering January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2002.

September 27, 1999, September 13, 2000 , December 11, 2000 The Copyright Office directed interested parties to file notice of their intent to participate in the 1998-2000 CARP proceeding and the 2001-02 proceeding.

December 11, 2000. Copyright Office determines that broadcasters retransmission of their audio on the internet is not exempt from the fees for the public performance of sound recordings. (This matter is also in the courts.)

31 days of hearings were held July through September of 2001.

10 days of rebuttal hearings from October 15, 2001 though October 25, 2001.

August 2001. Copyright Office Issues a report on the DMCA, with an Executive Summary Among other things, this report recommends that the Ephemeral Fees for webcasting be removed.

The CARP proceedings were suspended from November 9, 2001 through December 2, 2001 to permit the parties to engage in settlement negotiations. The deadline for the CARP report was changed to February 20, 2002 as a result. The negotiations resulted in a confidential settlement agreement between NPR (National Public Radio) and RIAA.

On December 20, 2001 and January 11, 2002, the Panel heard two days of oral arguments presented by counsel for the parties. Parties also submited Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Replies thereto, and various other memoranda.

February 20, 2002 Report of the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel

The Librarian of Congress (LoC) has until June 20, 2002 to accept, reject or modify the CARP report.

April 22, 2002 Congressional Letter to LoC

June 20, 2002 Final Rule and Order on rates from the LoC. Summary of this decision.


February 7, 2002. Copyright Office outlines the proposed record keeping requirements and requests comments.

April 5, 2002. Comments filed in response to the public notice on recordkeeping.

April 15, 2002. Copyright Office calls for a "Roundtable" on recordkeeping.

April 26, 2002. Reply Comments in the record keeping proceeding.

May 5, 2002 Roundtable as recorded by TVworldwide.com

June, 2002. "Likely Interim" recordkeeping requirements posted on Copyright Office website.

USA Today

The News-star

The Chronicle of H.E. 8/16

The Toledo Blade 8/20/02

PC World

New Mexico Paper

College Broadcasters

Chronicle of Higher Education

New York Times 4/18

SJ Metro

Christian Science Monitor

NY Times 4/1

Music Dish

Fox News

Washington Post


Salon.Com 4/3 Article

Student Press Law Center


Businessweek Online

Radio World Internetnews.com

Chronicle of H.E.

LA Times Editorial



The RAIN Report(Radio And Internet News) article.

SF Weekly

Dimension Music Article

"The Daily Texan" opinion piece


Other Links

U.S. Copyright Office

"Initial Notice of Digital Transmissions of Sound Recordings Under Statutory License"

Gavin article"Copyright Office to Congress: Clarify DMCA" and the Executive Summary of the Copyright Office Report mentioned in Gavin.

37CFR253.5 Performance of musical compositions by public broadcasting entities licensed to colleges and universities.