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Online Music Licensing Struggles in Australia
Post by trog @ 06:08pm 21/01/10 | Comments
Since 2003, we've been trying to find out what license we need to mirror online radio. We still don't know which one we need. Here's why.

The recent milestone we hit of a decade of news here on AusGamers reminded me about a few other projects and ideas we've had in the works for a long time. One such project was our plan to look at streaming radio - both our own station and also just mirroring various existing streams, both local and international.

We were really mostly wanting to mirror existing online radio stations. We were looking at it for a couple of reasons - mostly simply that we wanted to do it on AusGamers as we thought it would be a neat trick, but we were also interested in offering this commercially to ISP clients as a way for them to save money on bandwidth and provide a cool service for their users as more unmetered content.

Soon after we thought of it, other ISPs started doing it, so we figured we'd kick it into high gear and try and make it a reality before we were too late (or even later!). We were familiar with the software and knew that it was technically trivial to do. It would have taken - literally - minutes to set up, and we could have had a bunch of radio streams ready to, aha, rock. Users would in most cases be able to instantly stream music directly from us.

However, we have this bad habit of wanting to Do Things Properly. In this case it meant:
  • Ensuring we had the correct licenses for broadcasting in Australia. We knew that APRA/AMCOS were in charge of this and figured it would be just a case of sending them an email or two and picking the right license and cutting them a cheque.
  • Contacting the radio stations themselves to get permission to leech off their stream and rebroadcast it to Australian audience.
Heh, looking back on it like that it seems hilarious how naive I was. I knew then that there was some weird territorial licensing system that meant doing things internationally was complicated - but that word doesn't even scratch the surface.

I also made the mistake of thinking that APRA/AMCOS would be up on the lingo and have a firm grasp of technology - and thus that their available licensing schemes would reflect this. This thought was largely based on research into online streaming licenses - at the time a lot of the information online related only to streaming in the United States. However - perhaps unsuprisingly - APRA/AMCOS did not have the same level of organisation when it came to this here Internet thing.

To be clear, what we were trying to find out from APRA/AMCOS was what sort of license we needed in order to replicate or mirror an existing stream from an online source - either Australian or international. For example, what license would we need to mirror ABC's Triple J stream?

As of the 21st of January 2010, we still don't have an answer to this question.

It should be noted that APRA/AMCOS have since revamped their website and it now includes much more comprehensive information about licensing options, including this page which has some options for licensing for online streaming. However, you will note that the licenses offered don't really account for a mirror purporse, and it seems clear from their online information page that a license would be required.

I thought it might be interesting to post a history of my emails to and from APRA/AMCOS. Due to copyright and privacy issues I'm not going to paste the whole emails, just the dates.

Timeline to Tragedy


Date
Event
My Mood
9/8/2003
My first inquiry asking for details of Internet streaming. No reply received.
:)
9/9/2003
Sent a followup to ensure receipt of the first email.
:)
??/??/2003
(Date unknown) Received a phone call with some information, but didn't exactly meet our specific licensing requirements.
:)
5/1/2004
Sent a request asking for more information, focusing on the fact that we want to mirror, not create our own station.
:)
5/1/2004
Received reply with some details.
:)
... At this point we swapped a few emails about specifics of licensing; I got very helpful replies very quickly, but they weren't related to my inital inquiry. Still didn't get an answer about what license I needed. ...
23/2/2005
Sent another inquiry about what license we needed for mirroring - basically asking for information about what licenses other Australian companies and ISPs had to do exactly what we wanted to do.
:)
... four months pass ...
17/6/2005
Received an email from APRA saying they couldn't contact me by phone and asked for my phone number.
:\
17/6/2005
Replied within 10 minutes and gave them my phone number. Presumably they called me afterwards to ask for more information; a few hours later I re-forwarded (to a new contact) the email I sent them on the 23/02/2005.
:|
... no reply received ...
1/8/2005
Sent a follow-up email about licensing for mirroring.
:|
2/8/2005
APRA replies saying my email has been escalated to management, apologising for the delay.
:)
... No more information received. Several years go by. ...
07/4/2008
I send a follow-up email, after calling a few days earlier and leaving a phone message - and not getting called back.
:(
21/4/2008
I get a reply asking for more clarification about what we want to do. I am mildly vexed by this point.
:(
21/4/2008
I reply less than 30 minutes later with more details.
:(
... Time goes by ...
22/5/2008
I send a follow-up email.
:'(
... Time goes by ...
3/6/2008
I send a follow-up email.
:'(
... Time goes by ...
2/6/2009
One year later, I remember it again, and send a follow-up email.
:'(
2/7/2009
One month after my above email, I get an email from APRA saying my question has been escalated and someone will be in touch shortly.
:|
... Time goes by ...
22/1/2010
No reply received. I write this article.
X(
The End.... ? I'm going to email them again now and find out. Stay tuned.



Latest Comments
FaceMan
Posted 05:27pm 25/1/10
Why not just do it then sit back and wait for the cease and desist email ?
At least you will know you have their attention.
thermite
Posted 05:34pm 25/1/10
trog you need to learn to end your emails/letters/phonecalls with "You have one day."
Fn
Posted 05:36pm 25/1/10
What a McJoke. They cry about people not doing the right thing, yet seemingly they don't even know what the right thing is.
Weird tho since now days nearly every isp is mirroring music streams.
Shame important organisations such as these can be so naive yet it seems to be rampant in todays world.
mongie
Posted 05:38pm 25/1/10
Have you approached the ABC about it?

They may not want you to mirror their stream... but they might?
greazy
Posted 05:42pm 25/1/10
Have you tried skipping the licensing part (if a license does not exist, do you still need one?) and going straight to the radio company and asking them for permission?

Also, have you tried contacting the ISP companies that are doing the exact same thing you want to do? I thought this would be a logical step.
d[o_0]b
Posted 05:45pm 25/1/10
tl;dr
groganus
Posted 05:58pm 25/1/10
Why not just do it then sit back and wait for the cease and desist email ?
At least you will know you have their attention.


Really???!?!

A cease and desist is a best case* scenario... the other scenario is getting a big f*** you in the ass your sued mother f***** letter in the mail....

*note... best case scenario is them realizing what a mad dawg you are for mirroring the feed and giving you a billion dollars and a bunch of nakid chicks to suck your d***...
greazy
Posted 06:02pm 25/1/10
that's the radio companies, but if you ask permission and get it, whats stopping you?
TiT
Posted 07:03pm 25/1/10
how does internode do it???
HerbalLizard
Posted 07:05pm 25/1/10
Try breaking the licensing that will get a response
imitation
Posted 07:07pm 25/1/10
I remember you pondering this idea on here, doesn't seem like that many moons ago but I guess it was, lucky you didn't change anything with QGL
hef
Posted 07:17pm 25/1/10
that timeline is.... wow... just wow.
`ViPER`
Posted 07:48pm 25/1/10
Why not just do it then sit back and wait for the cease and desist email ?


Probably because its not worth the risk. Copyright companys dont care about people coming to them and trying to do stuff legit thats a bit hard/different to there current model of doing things, its all just too hard as you can see by trogs post, there are numerous other stories of the same thing happening on the internet.

But goddam will they come after you if you do something they dont like, guarantee it wouldnt just sit around for 7-8 years, you'd have lawyers sueing you for millions of dollars worth of lost revenue witinh weeks/days, even though when you ask them before hand how much it costs to licence it legitimatly, they dont know/care.
Fn
Posted 08:28pm 25/1/10
Accually I just had a great idea. You could hire me(ask Jim for a mad personal reference) to sort this out good and proper like. I am waiting for your pm/email/call/visit.
Seven
Posted 09:09pm 25/1/10
Your local Uni will have a copyright professional. Email them. They will at least be able to point you in the right direction.
Martz
Posted 11:04am 26/1/10
why not just ask JJJ if you can mirror their stream?
trog
Posted 11:08am 26/1/10
The issue is, according to the APRA licensing scheme and how they've explained it to us so far, it's not just JJJ that needs to give permission - we still need a license because we're communicating to users. From their page:
Whenever music is downloaded or streamed over the internet, there are a number of rights that are exploited. These include:

* the reproduction of a musical work; and
* the communication to the public of a musical work.
So the question that I'm /really/ asking them is, have JJJ already paid the licenses for this for their online stream?

OBVIOUSLY, they have. The real question here is are they going to double-dip by making mirrors pay as well.

I need to ask JJJ as well; I suspect they wouldn't give permission though, but I could be wrong.
TiT
Posted 11:19am 26/1/10
they would cause internode got tripple j stream mirrored
Fn
Posted 11:45am 26/1/10
why not just ask JJJ if you can mirror their stream?
As Trog has already said it's not as easy as that. I imagine JJJ would love people to mirror their stream, wider audience, ads are still being played/listened to and less data costs of their own.

It's similar to how McDonalds aren't legally allowed to play FM radio stations through their own PA system, it's not the FM station that cracks the s**** it's the copyright holder wanting more monies because its a public rebroadcast.
Twisted
Posted 12:07pm 26/1/10
Hahah....7 years .... far out.
Phar4oh
Posted 02:41pm 26/1/10
Hey Trog,

That was the email adventures from YOUR sent box. Imagine the adventures your emails have had on their network.
5000 x forwards
100 x "What's this? too hard, I'll leave it unread so I can deal with it later"
5 x "I can't be bothered finding the requested information but I reply to all my emails"
1 x "Special email folder created in the managers inbox to compile all Trogs emails where they all arrive eventually but are never followed up"
Crizane Tribal
Posted 03:45pm 26/1/10
We need some sort of special QGL task force for when we need to 'escalate' a situation. CHUB could bring his knife skills, we could take advantage of Tequila's raw size and love of guns, and MatchFixa could probably bring some explosives expertise to the table.
Trauma
Posted 04:12pm 26/1/10
As if Aussies have the quota to waste on streaming radio adds.
thermite
Posted 04:13pm 26/1/10
can I be the charlie to your angels, crizane?
ravn0s
Posted 04:27pm 26/1/10
you can be bosley
deeper
Posted 05:28pm 26/1/10
easy solution, give up on offering your services - you've tried
Superform
Posted 05:44pm 26/1/10
umm isnt JJJ part of the ABC? isnt the ABC not funded by advertising? (i might be wrong) why would JJJ let an ad sponsored site distribute there content?
Triamks
Posted 05:45pm 26/1/10
It's similar to how McDonalds aren't legally allowed to play FM radio stations through their own PA system, it's not the FM station that cracks the s**** it's the copyright holder wanting more monies because its a public rebroadcast.


Somebody tell Hungry Jack's because every store I've been in for the past few years has been playing a FM Radio station, be it Nova, B105 or another station.
Crizane Tribal
Posted 05:54pm 26/1/10
can I be the charlie to your angels, crizane?

LOL I didn't even think of that! We'll call the team 'Crizane's Angels', they'll take their orders from my but the missions get handed down from Trog. And yes, thermite can be Bosley.

I guess the first mission is to wipe out APRA. I really hope taking out Atkinson can be the second mission, then taking down Conroy for the 3rd.

last edited by Crizane Tribal at 17:54:59 26/Jan/10
`ViPER`
Posted 06:00pm 26/1/10
Somebody tell Hungry Jack's because every store I've been in for the past few years has been playing a FM Radio station, be it Nova, B105 or another station.


Yeah I though u just needed an apra licence to allow you to play instore radio etc.
jesu
Posted 09:07am 27/1/10
From what I understand there are two controlling companies in Australia that deal with copyright licensing for music/musicians.

Now from what you've written it seems that you may not know that PPCA exist.

From what I remember of my training about these companies:

APRA/AMCOS seem to take care of musicians by collecting fees from people that want to play their music. I think these guys try to 'protect' the artists compositions and intellectual property therein.

PPCA/ARIA take care of collecting fees for physical recordings. So they deal more with public performance fees (like playing on radio).

I am not in any way an expert with these matters, but just work for a company now that deals with both of these companies and some record companies directly so we can pay fees for public performance rights.
trog
Posted 11:10am 27/1/10
Now from what you've written it seems that you may not know that PPCA exist.
I have spoken to the PPCA several times. At the time I spoke to them they had no license that did what I wanted.

In February, 2005, they told me they were "about a month" away from having a blanket license that would meet our requirements.

I emailed them again in May, 2005 to chase it up and never got a response.

FWIW, PPCA email from the aria.com.au domain. I am intrigued as to exactly how separate they are as entities.
As if Aussies have the quota to waste on streaming radio adds.
if you RTFA you'll see one of the reasons we wanted to do this was to address that problem by offering it as a service to ISPs.

OH YEH, I FORGOT SOMETHING. I did actually ask TripleJ for permission, and it was refused. I've just dug up the email and don't want to quote it directly, but suffice to say it was refused because JJJ don't have a license that allows that. I've emailed the person back to ask for permission to repost her email.
Term
Posted 11:22am 27/1/10
on the how does internode do it, I had a chat to simon h about that way back when tehy started doing it, and the fact is they have no license to do it, they are relying on the existing license that the person doing the streaming has and using the age old 'we're just reproducing their stream' which is in my view clearly not right, I've askled the same people that they mirror if they have a license that allows duplicaiton of their streams and they just said they ddint know.

Clearly to me from a legal perspective this is flakey its just no one cares right now..
jesu
Posted 01:54pm 27/1/10
I have spoken to the PPCA several times. At the time I spoke to them they had no license that did what I wanted. In February, 2005, they told me they were "about a month" away from having a blanket license that would meet our requirements. I emailed them again in May, 2005 to chase it up and never got a response. FWIW, PPCA email from the aria.com.au domain. I am intrigued as to exactly how separate they are as entities.


Yeh; this seems to be the same quality of service that we receive from PPCA/ARIA (I keep using slash for these companies because a lot of the same people seem to work under/for them...) and they never give you a reasonable straight answer.

PPCA/ARIA are going through their fee schemes right now from what I've heard and have a feeling that this kind of license should be available from them already at this point in time.

I'll see if I can get some details on the person we deal with...
trog
Posted 12:46pm 28/1/10
I have received a new reply from APRA/AMCOS asking me some more questions today and provided them with the information they want.

Basically the status at the moment is that they do not have a license that meets these requirements.
hairboy
Posted 06:31pm 15/4/10
Err.....just doing research for a game I've got in development...seems that this might be what you're after? http://www.ppca.com.au/Webcasting-Licences.html
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