Podcasts: The Law and Limitations

Many of you have asked us to make Podcasts available of all our channels. While we would love to do that, in order to make it legal under the DMCA, we would be forced to pay SoundExchange (the music licensing division of the RIAA) over 30 cents a track per download. A one hour podcast would cost us $3.00 per download. Considering that we have over 10,000 people a day who listen to our broadcasts you can see how much this would cost us!

Why is it so expensive? A podcast is legally considered making a "copy" rather than a "broadcast", and the SoundExchange folks repeatedly have said that they will not make exceptions to this rule, and continue to consider podcasts a download, and demand full download fees for each track.

The alternative is to contact every rights-holder for every track we play and get permission for a limited time period. This would mean only playing music which is "podcast safe." Keep in mind very few record labels give podcasters blanket licenses. Between the administration overhead and the limits it would put on our playlist creativity, we don't think this is a viable option for our streaming channels.

We do "clear" (or get permission to podcast) recordings from some artists. Additionally, we can podcast live performances which we record (with the artists permission of course).

But what about all those other podcasts that feature music?!? Why can they do it? Legally, they're all breaking the law, but they're flying under the radar and haven't been noticed by the RIAA yet. And if they are noticed, the RIAA sends a "DMCA takedown" notice to their ISP who has to pull their content from the net. If we did this, we could jeopardize our radio operations, and it's very important for us to not let that happen. So we have to play by the rules, no matter how unfair those rules may be.

Going forward, we will be doing our best to lobby for changes to the DMCA which will allow for music podcasting. And while many artists support podcasting, it will be an uphill battle because the bigger record labels have lots of money to fight music podcasting. Not to mention that they are doing their own podcasts which feature just the content that they want to market to you.

We feel these rules are archaic and silly, and we are lobbying to get them changed.

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