STREAMS vs. DOWNLOADS   THE STRANGE TRUTH ABOUT MUSIC COPYRIGHT LAWS
 


Why don't you podcast the weekly program?   Why can't I buy copies of programs?

SHORT ANSWER : It comes down to the legal difference between streams and downloads.
There's a license that allows us to stream the programs, but we can't get licenses for downloads.

LONG ANSWER :  Under existing music copyright laws we cannot legally podcast our programs due to the licensing rules for music downloads. Both CDs and downloads (podcasts are downloads) are 'reproductions' under the law and require separate licenses from both record labels and music publishers.

Streams are 'performances' covered by existing public performance licenses — a completely different situation. Congress and the Copyright Office have established 'blanket' (all-inclusive) licenses and royalty rates for streams. To operate as a legal streaming service, we report what we stream several times a year and pay at the defined rates to three collection agencies: ASCAP, BMI and SoundExchange

For podcasts or downloads, on a typical show with 12 musical selections we would have to negotiate up to 24 separate licenses; pay substantial cash advances; and if any source said no for any piece, we would be unable to offer that program without removing it and compromising the show.

Even if it were possible to get the necessary licenses, sales of program downloads at anything like current prices would be ridiculously expensive. Using iTunes Music Store download prices as a guide ($9.99 per album), it would cost over $9,000 to buy downloads of all our programs!  So not only is streaming legal, it's a much better deal for listeners.

The only other solution is arguably illegal and inarguably labor intensive: you can obtain "stream recording" software, subscribe to our streaming service and systematically convert our 1,000+ program streams into your own downloads. The quality of the final product would be audibly compromised due to multiple conversions. And we don't even like to think about how long it would take!

We are far more frustrated by this than you are. In addition to serving our listeners directly expressed needs, download sales would go a long way to securing the financial future of the program. Unfortunately, until we see a big change in the licensing laws for music, program downloads will remain a pipe dream.

If you think this situation is ridiculous, you're in good company. Write to your congresspersons and ask for meaningful reform of music copyright policies.

:: Stephen Hill, Producer