Internet Broadcasting Rules

Written by rob callahan
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Internet Broadcasting Rules
Most traditional radio broadcasters maintain an online presence as well through Internet broadcasting. (Announcer and DJ at small broadcasting station image by Oleg Kulakov from

With available bandwidth on the increase, professional and amateur broadcasters alike are taking advantage of the Internet to bring their programs and ideas to a worldwide audience. With an array of available production and broadcast tools available, it can be easy to get started with an Internet broadcast (or stream), but there are important legal regulations and considerations for radio stations and individuals who wish to share their programming online.

Registration with the Copyright Office

Internet broadcasters, also known as webcasters, need to register with the Copyright Office before they begin their webcast. The form that webcasters need to submit is called the Notice of Sound Recordings Under Statutory License and must be submitted along with a filing fee of £13 (as of 2010). If a webcaster will be offering multiple streams on a single website, only one form and filing fee need to be submitted.

Restrictions on Interactive Service

Interactive service is defined as an Internet-based broadcast that allows listeners to determine the songs played by selecting them from a menu. Internet broadcasters must retain control over their content and can only allow the listener limited input as to the music that is played. For example, an Internet broadcast service could allow a listener to select or deselect specific artists to be included in a stream or to skip a limited number of songs. Webcasters may also play specific songs that are requested, but only as long as the webcaster retains control over which requests are played, and when.

Transmission of Copyright Information

Webcasters are required to identify a song's title, album of origination and performing artist in text and during play. Also, if technically feasible, information from the copyright holder that identifies all of the above must be encoded into the stream.

Sound Recording Performance Complement

The sound recording performance complement is a set of restrictions on how often songs by the same artist or album can be played. In any three hour period, no more than three songs can be played by the same artist or from the same album, and no more than two can be played consecutively. This rule can be modified slightly in some cases, under the Featured Artist Restriction, to allow no more than four songs from the same artist or album, with no more than three played consecutively.

Advance Program Schedule Restrictions

Webcasters can not provide an advance program or schedule that would identify when a specific recording, album or featured artist will be played on their stream. Webcasters are not prohibited from making a live announcement that a particular song is coming up (only from posting the information ahead of time), but they are not allowed to state the exact time it will be played. A limited exception to this rule can be made for classical music broadcast stations that had published program guides prior to 1998.

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