Airtime as the international rights licensing solution?
  • Vote Up0Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    If you have an interest in online radio and TV streaming, you will no doubt be aware that content licensing across national borders is a real headache. The problem is such that services including and BBC iPlayer are available in their host countries only, using IP address geolocation blocking.

    So why not place an Airtime server in each country you want to stream to, complying with national licensing regulations, but pulling content and schedule data from a network of other Airtime instances? We already have the beginning of an API for schedule export, and data can be shared over rsync. We can then have decentralised syndication, but with a shared schedule that can be altered locally, for example to insert your local news bulletins.

    This would also help solve one of the other problems for media start-ups, which is that producing 24/7 original content is really expensive (the reason why so many radio stations now rely on music automation to fill time).

    Airtime would then be not just another broadcast automation application that happens to run on the web, but a platform for solving your pressing business problems of licensing and production costs. All you then have to do is find other radio stations that you want to share your original content with.

    You no longer care that you can't afford US streaming royalties, because your content can appear on dozens of US stations. Or if you have more commercial ambitions, you can rent secondary servers in the US and do your licensing paperwork there.

    Thoughts? Flames? :-)
    Post edited by Daniel James at 2012-05-14 06:59:38
  • 18 Comments sorted by
  • Vote Up1Vote Down Albert FRAlbert FR
    Posts: 1,978Member, Airtime Moderator
    I really don't understand why you're posting this here ;)
    that a legally problem who is not under airtime problematics and would be view by operators case by case
    and a lot of societies offer theses opportunities :D
  • On top of what Albert just said what you are saying is wrong.
    The problem of content licensing regulations is not about from where people are listening to your webradio but from where your radio is streamed (where are your servers)... for exemple you can live in US but if your servers are in France you will be under the french law... and you will have to pay the SACEM... that's how Radionomy find a way to circumvent the law for people who want to creat a webradio from some country where the content licensing regulations are very strict...
    Listen to Ness Radio LIVE
  • Vote Up1Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    Reply to @Rick+Munday:Absolutely we should play above board; I believe all stations should compensate artists for the music they use, if they have any income at all. This proposal was that we could make it a lot easier to ensure license compliance by streaming from a separate Airtime server for each licensing territory, even if the content was broadly similar across all servers.

    As for the fairness of royalty payments, I note that SoundExchange does not pay anything to non-featured artists, such as session musicians.


  • Vote Up0Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    Hi Albert, hi Youness,

    You are right that this is a legal problem, but it may have a technical solution.

    As for the issue of where licensing laws apply, the situation may differ in France, but in the UK I believe that any royalties that you pay to the national collecting society are for listeners in the UK only. The servers can be located anywhere in the EU, USA, Switzerland etc. See the definitions of Territory and Server Territory in the document and Mobile/OML Terms.pdf

    In the US, SoundExchange has some reciprocal agreements, but they don't cover France, and you will see that they are often restricted to 'featured artists':

    I don't think there is any license which covers all listeners to all artists worldwide, but I'd be very happy to be proved wrong about that.



  • Vote Up0Vote Down Albert FRAlbert FR
    Posts: 1,978Member, Airtime Moderator
    In fact you're wrong ;)
    there is an agreement between the various companies who manage copyrights who manage the music separately.
    And that where necessary by paying royalties (after even claim it to radio stations and Internet radio)
    So, for the user there is no global management rights to be considered
    Otherwise it would turn to madness

  • Why not just play above board and keep it legit in all locations? Or move to support making it legit in those countries? 

    It's attitudes like this that prevail in terrestrial radio (U.S.) that have put it in the sad state it's in. "Why play by the rules when we can game the system?".

    I'm not directly slamming the idea you have, just the approach.

    Personally I think the entire royalties and licensing system as it stands is an absolute scam that leans towards the labels and not the people who produce the music. Same applies for exclusive airplay rights of certain labels on certain terrestrial networks.

    Since Internet Radio is the "next generation" of radio, we should be playing above board and setting the standard, not start off using the same tactics to game the system that the failing systems do.
  • Vote Up0Vote Down Albert FRAlbert FR
    Posts: 1,978Member, Airtime Moderator
    Perhaps Rick, but you can't avoid locals rigths managements companies...
    And they do that for us
    But your idea is not really the same, you're talking about independents artists, and they can pass by others systems (like Creatives commons) and be payed by companies like Jamendo or FFA, etc
    That's not really the same thing
  • Vote Up0Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    Reply to @Albert+FR: First I should say that I'm not a lawyer, and this is my assessment of a very complex situation. I'm very happy to be proved wrong if you can find any official declaration to the contrary.

    My understanding is that royalty collection societies operate according to national copyright laws, in which one or more agencies are authorised by the national government to collect both performance and songwriter royalties from citizens of that country who stream music online. (SoundExchange only collects performer royalties from digital stations, songwriter royalties are another issue altogether). I do not think these societies could be authorised to collect royalties from citizens of any other country, because their legal jurisdiction does not go that far.

    The logical outcome is that unscrupulous webcasters would stream from a country where royalty rates for artists were lowest (or not collected at all) into high value markets like the USA or EU. Therefore it's no surprise that SoundExchange in the US and MCPS-PRS in the UK assert that the physical location of the server is unimportant, and that it is the location of the listeners which determines the need for one of their licenses. See the reply from SoundExchange here:

    This means the societies can demand payment when the stream crosses their national border, and is considered under their legal jurisdiction, in a similar way to physical products imported into their country. I'd call that a grey area, since streams of data are not physical products. Many radio stations have broadcast across national boundaries in the past, without being regulated in the countries where the listeners were located. Stations like Radio Free Europe could only exist because of that fact.

    There is a downside to asserting that the location of the listener matters, and the location of the server or radio station does not. There is no single streaming license available, as far as I am aware, which covers performance royalties for listeners in all countries, or any equivalent license for songwriter royalties. This is the stated reason why services such as Pandora are not available outside the USA:

    We might assume that there is some reciprocal agreement in place which allows webcasters to pay once to their national collecting society, and then legally stream to listeners in all countries. However SoundExchange in the USA only has a limited number of overseas partnerships, as I mentioned above, and the artist has to sign up as a member of SoundExchange to collect those specific overseas royalties.


  • Vote Up0Vote Down Albert FRAlbert FR
    Posts: 1,978Member, Airtime Moderator
    Hi Daniel,

    You are talking about US, and for the US this restrictions are available (due to MPAA, RIAA and restrictives Americans law about copyrights). But it is a country case.

    America is not the World ;) and US have agreements with their equivalent into the world
    The situation today is for
    broadcasters to charge according to their country of origin

  • Vote Up0Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    Reply to @Albert+FR: Actually the MCPS-PRS in the UK (songwriter royalty society alliance) also states that the listener location is what determines the need for the licence, not the server location. It may be different in France.


  • Vote Up0Vote Down Albert FRAlbert FR
    Posts: 1,978Member, Airtime Moderator
    Reply to @Daniel+James:UK is not the 51 State of America ?

    Seriously, in Europe for example (except UK), you have a pan-European agreement for this
    and local society of songwriters royalties have
    agreements with their foreign partners and the rest of the world ( US included)
  • Vote Up0Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    Hi Albert, for webcasters in many countries there are not only songwriter royalties, there are also performance royalties for the members of the band. Performance royalties are collected by SoundExchange in USA, and PPL in UK. This PPL document says that its licence for performance royalties covers France under the IFPI reciprocal scheme:
    but not the USA. I have emailed SoundExchange and PPL about that. I have also emailed Sacem for a definitive answer on the situation in France.



  • In France the fees for a non commercial webradio are not affordable (non commercial mean absolutely no ads, no merchandising..).
    Sacem is jus a big racket. (Sacem's CEO earn 
    600.000 €/year )

    I stream Creative Commons content only and fuck off !
  • hello fred.
    you are not totally right. for not commercial webradio it's just 60€ per month
    Listen to Ness Radio LIVE
  • @Daniel James
    Voila for la SACEM (in english)

    Anyone setting up a small internet radio will be using music works, written or dramatic texts, sketches and so on. To broadcast such protected works, prior authorization must be granted by Authors' Societies managing the relevant rights.

    Applicable rate

    For small internet radio services, the rate is 6% of the overall budget of any webradio:
    whose annual budget is less than € 15,000: a minimum fee of € 60 per month for the first three channels,
    whose annual budget is between € 15,000 and € 40,000: a minimum fee of € 120 per month for the first three channels.
    If the annual budget of your internet radio exceeds €40,000, please go to Medium to large scale internet radio.
    Furthermore if you use recordings produced by records labels, you must obtain permission from them to broadcast their recordings.
    The SCPP (Société Civile pour l'exercice des droits Phonographique des Produteurs) and the SPPF (Société Civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France) can answer your questions.

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  • Vote Up0Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    I had a response from PPL; the reciprocal agreement between SoundExchange and IFPI announced in 2004 was never actually completed, so there is no reciprocal agreement between IFPI scheme countries and the USA for webcasting performance royalties. This is the current list of countries in the reciprocal scheme, according to PPL:

    Costa Rica
    Czech Republic
    Dominican Rep
    Hong Kong
    New Zealand
    United Kingdom

    So it looks like having one server for the USA and one server for IFPI reciprocal agreement countries is still a viable solution. It might be better for load balancing, anyway.

    The alternative would be to have a single Airtime server that generates separate listener reports for USA and IFPI country listeners, so that you can send the right report to the right collecting society. If all listeners are reported to both societies then you might end up paying double royalties.

    Then there's the issue of countries that aren't in the IFPI scheme or covered by SoundExchange, and a separate issue of reciprocal agreements for songwriter royalties. I'll chase up with MCPS-PRS about that.


  • hello fred.

    you are not totally right. for not commercial webradio it's just 60€ per month

    yes for the Sacem, but since few years, it seems you have to pay SCPP to : (480€/year !!!)60€ (sacem) + 48€(scpp)  /month + your server fees's too much

    and the funny part :
    Par ailleurs, nous vous précisons que si vous utilisez des enregistrements produits par des maisons de disques, vous devez également obtenir l'autorisation de ces dernières pour diffuser leurs enregistrements. "

    Post edited by Fred Percevault at 2012-05-17 15:11:47
  • Vote Up0Vote Down Daniel JamesDaniel James
    Posts: 844Member, Sourcefabric Team
    Hi Fred, it's fairly typical that there are separate royalties to pay for songwriters and recordings. So far I have not found any reciprocal arrangement for songwriter royalties that webcasters can use, because the IFPI scheme is for recording royalties only.