Internet radio licensing
An Internet radio license is a specific type of broadcast license that allows the licensee to operate an Internet radio station. The licensing authority and number of licenses required varies from country to country, with some countries requiring multiple to cover various areas of a station's operation, and other countries not having stringent licensing procedures in place. Licensing costs also vary, based on the number of listeners that a station has, as well as other factors such as the number of songs played, the number of broadcast hours, and whether tracks are dubbed to a digital playout system.
Licensing fees for Internet radio have often been the subject of controversy. For example, in 1998, the passing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act meant that US-based Internet radio and satellite radio stations would have to pay separate royalties to recording artists and sound recording copyright owners, unlike traditional over-the-air stations that paid royalties only for the use of the underlying musical works. This led to the creation of the SaveNetRadio.org petition group, in addition to the proposal of the Internet Radio Equality Act.
Multimedia content is an intellectual property. These regulations on this property differ from country to country; however the general rule is that the station must own, or have a license to broadcast the content that is covered under copyright regulations. Content that has been released under some creative commons licenses, public domain or similar can be streamed with no special content licensing requirements. However the content licensed under non-free cultural Creative Commons licenses with non-commercial (nc) clause cannot be streamed if Internet broadcast station has any form of advertising, either in the stream or on the station website.
Internet radio licensing by country
Internet radio licensing in the Netherlands is partially dealt with by the main Dutch royalty body BUMA-STEMRA, whom charge a fixed fee in order for a station to broadcast via the Internet.
In the United Kingdom, Internet radio stations must obtain licenses from both the MCPS-PRS Alliance and Phonographic Performance Limited. Although the former of these fees is largely fixed, the latter is calculated based on the number of tracks played per hour, in addition to the number of listeners (calculated via Internet radio audience measurement). In addition to these two main licenses, stations must also pay the PPL dubbing fee in order to store tracks to a hard-drive or other storage device for playout, and the MCPS-PRS TV and Radio Advertisement License in order to use copyrighted music in advertisements and promotional pieces. The multitude of licenses required, and the accumulative cost of them all, have priced many small stations out of running sustainably via Internet mediums.
No Ofcom Licence is required for Internet broadcasting.
- Mediauk.com - Licences for an Internet radio station
- David Childers (2011). Internet Broadcasters Information Handbook, Fifth Edition
- BUMA-STEMRA official website (Dutch language)