[icecast] DMCA and webcasting

Joshua Vickery vickeryj at grinnell.edu
Thu Sep 13 14:30:47 UTC 2001

Last year I arranged with my college radio station and ITS department to
webcast the radiostation using icecast.  The webcast has been a wonderful
success so far.  My problem now is not technical, but political.  A few days
ago I recieved the following message from the station director:

hey josh,
i talked to [faculty advisor] today and was told we must stop our online
streaming.  reasons for this rash decision involve around a new law that
was put in place over the summer saying that stations who broadcast online
have to pay royalties, but the amount to be paid has yet to be specified.
apparently, a number of college stations have stopped streaming in fear
that the royalties will involve a huge amount of money.  within grinnell,
because grinnell college got in trouble with the FCC and fined 20,000
dollars last time they were here, the college lawyers are unwilling for us
to risk getting in trouble again by broadcasting without paying - and
they're scared the money we'll have to pay will be lots lots.  so until
some mystical nationwide beaucracy tells us how much royalties we have to
pay (a few months, says [faculty advisor]) we're not allowed to broadcast
online.  this sucks a lot, i know, but i think we need to obey.  so,
i'm hoping that you can stop by the station tonight and get the streaming
computer turned off and whatever else it takes to make sure we're not
streaming when we start broadcasting tomorrow.  if you have questions,
ask me or [faculty advisory] directly...he's more familiar with the law
than me.  if you want to mention that on the website too when you get
thanks and sorry about this shitty decision,
[station manager]

Now, from my inderstanding the the DMCA and recent events, it is possible
that we will be made to pay some royalties to the record labels.  However,
we are a very small radio station with a very small webcasting audiance.  We
don't pay any royalties to broadcast over the air.  My belief is that we should
not halt our webcast for fear of future fees.  I can't imagine that the record
companies who send us their CDs for free will send us a bill for our
webcasting since October 1998.  I have a meeting with the faculty advisor
tommorow.  If anyone has any thoughts or advice on what I should say during
this meeting I would greatly appreciate it.


Joshua Vickery
Grinnell College
Grinnell IA, 50112
vickeryj at grinnell.edu

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