In recent years, the large corporations running the recording industry have been in a bit of a panic, as more and more recording artists realize the services they provide no longer justify the large percentages these companies claim in order to get artists published. Furthermore, the Internet boom has enabled artists to publish their music much more easily and cheaply, to connect more directly with their fans, and to spread awareness of their new music to others. This is a direct threat to the record companies who have responded with legal moves to add further restrictions and costs in an era where they must adapt to a looser grip, or die. The larger members of the recording industry have instead tightened their grip, circling wagons, in an attempt to protect what they had in the past.
A few years ago, the courts ruled in favor of the music publishing industry, but in a manner that made it virtually impossible for small independent and non-profit Internet radio stations to continue, however it looked like the music publishing industry understood that it was in their best interests to promote their music, and supported a temporary delay in enforcing their legal win. However, this did not seem to go anywhere, and this station was investigating whether it would be technically possible to use Live365 to continue broadcast, since that was the only solution found which handled the licensing (at least US licensing) in a simple way for stations.
However, in the United States, the Copyright Review Board has decided to drop the special provisions for small broadcasters. This has pretty much ended Live365’s ability to provide a service to small broadcasters, and caused many of their investors to bail, resulting in staff losses at Live365. In a recent posting, Live365 was blunt:
For 17 years, Live365 has offered small webcasters the opportunity to stream music and talk content, providing an alternative distribution channel for diverse, quality content on the Internet in a legally responsible way.
Recently, the Copyright Royalty Board, the governing entity for establishing the sound recording royalty rates that are paid to copyright holders, has published the new rates for 2016-20. The previous provisions for small webcasters to opt for a percentage of revenue model were not renewed. The current provisions end at the end of 2015. The absence of this license will make legally streaming copyrighted musical content prohibitively expensive for many small to mid-sized Internet broadcasters. Live365 relies on this license for many of their broadcast partners and, as such, has hard decisions to make regarding their future in the streaming industry.
As Live365 was pretty much the final option for this small non-profit, ad-free Internet radio station, there are no legal options remaining.
I will be keeping the music stream, for now, but solely for personal use, and will not be publishing the stream information on the web or including the pop-out Flash-based music player as of the end of the month. I will also be removing the options that show it listed as a station in the various search listings.
After many, many years of (mostly) 24×7 broadcast, this music stream will cease to be an Internet radio “station”. I hope the music industry is happy that it is shutting down those who promoted their artists, for free.