To fully understand licensing and our Affiliate Licensing Program, we strongly suggest that broadcasters read this document in its entirety.
Live365, Licensing and Your Broadcast
Every song that you play on your station contains two separate copyrighted works. The first work is called the "musical composition," which consists of the song's music and lyrics. The second work, made while the band played the song in a recording studio or at a concert, is called the "sound recording."
U.S. law requires a Webcaster to obtain permission from the copyright owner of a musical composition before the Webcaster plays the song. To do so, a Webcaster can request a "public performance license" from a copyright owner in exchange for payment of a license fee or royalty. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are the performing rights organizations that issue those licenses.
Licenses for "sound recordings" are issued and administered by the performing rights organization SoundExchange. (Comprehensive descriptions of the whys and hows of licensing are available below.)
Live365 has secured both "musical composition" and "sound recording" licenses from the aforementioned Performing Rights Organizations, and most Live365 broadcasters are completely covered by Live365's licenses. However, under certain circumstances, you may be required to obtain an additional license, or it may be cheaper for you to do so.
First, answer the following questions:
In response to customer requests, Live365 has made special arrangements with our friends at SESAC, BMI and ASCAP to offer discounted versions of their standard Internet licenses to certain Live365 Broadcasters. This enables Live365 to offer eligible customers a "one-stop" service by providing bandwidth, broadcasting tools, and music licensing all in one place! When you purchase broadcasting services from Live365, you can apply for discounted ASCAP, BMI and SESAC licenses (available only to qualified Live365 customers). For your convenience, Live365 will include your license fees on your monthly billing statement.
BMI: Offers two levels of license depending upon your size, including an exclusive Micro-Caster License for small, budget-conscious Webcasters.
SESAC: Offers one license. If your Web site will generate fewer than 550,000 sessions in the following 12 months, and you plan on generating less than $1,200 a month in revenue, you qualify for our Affiliate SESAC license. The SESAC license accounts for $8 of either bundled package.
"Revenue" is fully defined in the short licensing applications that you will need to complete, but, conceptually, it is the money you make from your use of copyrighted music on your broadcast and through your Web site. For instance, income from commercial audio spots run on your station or income from any listener donations will count as revenue. The "litmus test" is to ask yourself: "If my station was no longer available on my Web site, would I still generate this revenue?"
Broadcasters who intend to obtain their own SoundExchange or ASCAP/BMI/SESAC licenses must submit sufficient documentation to Live365. The proper Live365 forms to complete, sign and submit can be found here. A copy of all the required notices and agreements with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress and the relevant Performing Rights Organizations must accompany this form, as outlined in the form. The form and the required documents must be faxed or mailed to Live365:
950 Tower Lane, Suite 1550
Foster City, CA 94404
FAX: (650) 345-7497
If you believe that all of the music that you will play is not protected by copyright (for example, you might play certain older music for which the copyright has expired), you will need to certify to Live365 that the music is not copyright-protected. The proper Live365 form to complete, sign and submit can be found here. The completed form must be faxed or mailed to Live365:
950 Tower Lane, Suite 1550
Foster City, CA 94404
FAX: (650) 345-7497
If you have determined you are not covered by Live365's blanket licenses, you must obtain public performance licenses for the musical composition or sound recording before you play any copyrighted song, even if it's just one song. This is required by law.
It All Starts With a Song
As we said, every song that you play on your station contains two separate copyrighted works. The first work is called the "musical composition" and consists of the song's music and lyrics. The second work, made while the band played the song in a recording studio or at a concert, is called the "sound recording."
The copyright to a musical composition and the copyright to the sound recording can be owned by different people. For example, a songwriter may agree to assign the copyrights to his or her musical compositions to a music publishing company in exchange for an annual salary. It becomes the music publisher's job to promote the song so that a popular artist or band will record it. When the song is broadcast on radio or TV or is Webcast on the Internet, the music publisher and the songwriter are entitled to be paid royalties from the "public performance" of the song.
So, the music publisher, the songwriter and the recording artist can be different from one another. Other times, the music publisher, songwriter and recording artist may be the same person. For example, an artist who writes and performs his or her own songs may decide to act as his or her own music publisher.
U.S. law requires a Webcaster to obtain permission from the copyright owner of musical composition before the Webcaster plays a copyrighted song. To do so, a Webcaster can request a "public performance license" from a copyright owner, in exchange for payment of a license fee. But how do Webcasters identify, contact and pay each music publisher and songwriter in advance of using their music? And how do music publishers and songwriters issue licenses to thousands of Webcasters and make sure each Webcaster pays the license fee? This process is called "blanket licensing," and is conducted by Performing Rights Organizations ("P.R.O.s").
Performing Rights Organizations license the right to publicly perform musical compositions. On behalf of the music publishers and songwriters they represent, the organizations offer Webcasters "blanket" licenses that cover not just a song or two, but whole catalogs, which comprise thousands of songs. In the United States, there are three performing rights organizations for musical compositions: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
While licenses must be obtained from only those organizations whose music you play, Live365 recommends that Webcasters who need licensing outside of Live365's blanket license obtain licenses from all three Performing Rights Organizations. Each organization represents music of many styles and periods. Further, each year some music publishers and songwriters decide to switch from one organization to another, so it can be difficult to determine which organization represents a particular song. For further information, please visit their respective Web sites: BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC.
The owner of the copyright in a sound recording owns the exclusive right to publicly perform the recording through a digital transmission, such as over the Internet. Therefore, Webcasters must also obtain a public performance license for each sound recording they play. In the United States, SoundExchange is the Performing Rights Organization that provides public performance licenses for the Webcasting (streaming) of sound recordings. SoundExchange collects license fees and distributes royalties to record labels (the majors, as well as independent and artist-owned labels), the featured recording artist and the backing musicians who contribute to the recordings. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), Webcasters are entitled to these licenses only if their playlists comply with certain requirements, called the "sound recording complement." For example, songs cannot be available on demand, and no more than four songs by an artist can be streamed on the same station within any three-hour period. Information about SoundExchange is available here.
Public performance license fees for streaming sound recordings vary depending upon the type of Webcaster. For non-commercial stations, the amount is usually a flat fee. For "Small Webcasters" (as defined by the DMCA statute), the fee is a percentage of revenue (subject to a minimum charge). For other commercial Webcasters, the license fee is either based on the number of performances or on the number of aggregated tuning hours (Live365 calls this Total Listening Hours, or TLH), streamed by the Webcaster. Further information is available on SoundExchange's Web site.
Because it is the law. Copyright infringement can result in 1) a civil suit for money damages of up to $150,000 per song, 2) criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment, and 3) personal liability on the part of corporate directors and officers. Moreover, license fees compensate the creators of content, including songwriters and performing artists.
Live365 believes that content creators should be fairly and reasonably compensated for their work. Therefore, if you answered the above questions designed to help you determine whether your station needs its own licensing and determined that your station requires licensing beyond what is provided by Live365, Live365 requires you to submit documentation as proof that you hold the proper licenses.
For Musical Compositions
Live365 has a blanket license that, in many cases, makes it unnecessary for a broadcaster to obtain additional licensing.
However, you must obtain licenses from and must pay license fees to the Performing Rights Organizations if you intend to generate revenue from your station and/or you wish to launch your station directly from your Web site (without first launching your Live365 station page), and you intend to play any type of copyrighted music, including the music that accompanies talk programs and other non-music shows.
Please read and answer these questions to determine whether your station needs its own ASCAP/BMI/SESAC licensing and to ascertain whether you are eligible for the Live365 Affiliate Licensing Program.
If you require them, it is your responsibility to obtain these licenses, either through the Live365 Affiliate Licensing Program, or by contacting ASCAP, BMI and SESAC directly.
Live365 covers sound recording royalties for many of its broadcasters with its statutory license. Your station is covered unless you have a broadcasting package that (1) has a price structure based on a maximum number of simultaneous listeners AND (2) allows you to opt-out of Live365's in-stream audio advertising, most Live365 branding, and all in-stream Live365 network identification.
Please read and answer these questions to determine whether your station requires its own sound recording license through SoundExchange.
If your station does require its own public performance license for sound recordings, you may obtain a license directly from SoundExchange. If you intend to license yourself, you must submit an "Initial Notice of Digital Transmissions of Sound Recordings under Statutory License" along with a $20 application fee to the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The form can be found here. The royalty rate you pay will depend on what type of Webcaster you are. You will be responsible for reporting and paying royalties directly to SoundExchange. Do not expect SoundExchange to contact you or invoice you; it is your responsibility to determine the royalty rate that you qualify for, calculate your royalties and pay royalties to SoundExchange.
If you believe that you do not need a public performance license for sound recordings (i.e. if you do not intend to play copyrighted music, or you intend to play only music you wrote, performed and recorded), you will need to warrant this to Live365 and provide a signed affidavit to support your warranty. See above for the form and documentation that is required.
You should first contact the Performing Rights Organization in your jurisdiction to inquire about licensing options. Then, contact firstname.lastname@example.org should you have further questions.
Currently, the Affiliate License Program is available only to PRO broadcasters, although it will become available shortly to all broadcasters. If you run a PRO station, please contact your account representative to sign up for the Affiliate License Program.
In order to take part in the program, you should have a Web site. Additionally, your station must not exceed certain thresholds to qualify for the program. Please read the primary requirements and license definitions to determine which license package your station qualifies for (if any).
Although you have paid your licensing fees, you are not officially licensed until your license application has been accepted by each of the licensing organizations (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC), and you have received notification that your license is in effect.
When you purchased your license, you should have received an e-mail with two (2) links: one to the ASCAP/SESAC application form, and one to the BMI application form. Please read and fill out each form carefully, then submit them as instructed. When each Performing Rights Organization approves your application, you will receive notification via e-mail that your license from that organization is active.
We strongly suggest that broadcasters who are participating in the Live365 Affiliate Licensing Program keep their accounts current. If your Live365 account remains overdue for 30 days, your licenses will be revoked and you will be required to reapply in order to reinstate your licenses.
When you get a set of licenses from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC through the Live365 Affiliate Program, you are actually licensing your Web site, not your station. These licenses allow you to make money from your Web site as a "showcase" for your station. That's why its URL is required.
Possibly. As noted above, when you get a set of licenses from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC through the Live365 Affiliate Program, you are actually licensing your Web site, not your station. These licenses allow you to make money from your Web site as a "showcase" for your station.
So, if you have multiple stations launching from one Web site, you only need to purchase one set of licenses, provided that your stations' aggregate revenue, simultaneous listeners and total sessions in a 12 month period do not exceed the thresholds set by your licenses.
For example, if you have one station with 250 simultaneous listeners promoted via your Web site, and a second station with 300 SLs is promoted via the same site, the sum of simultaneous listeners exceeds the threshold allowed by the terms of the BMI license we offer as part of our Affiliate Licensing Program. In that case, your Web site would not qualify for our program, and you would have to go directly to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for licensing.
If you are planning to use more than one Web site to generate revenue and accept donations, you may need multiple licenses. You will NOT need to uniquely license each Web site if all sites are "mirrors" of each other, containing the same content and having a substantially similar look and feel, as well as if the number of sessions from all of those site(s) does not exceed 550,000 in a twelve month period, the maximum allowed by ASCAP and SESAC.
Along the same lines, you will not need to separately license each Web site's URL if you have one primary destination site and all your other URLs are redirects to your main site.
We recommend that you actually purchase your license package under a username other than your broadcast username. It's really a way for us to reinforce that your licenses are not attached to your station; they are attached to your Web site. When you sign up for the Live365 Affiliate Licensing Program, you are licensing your Web site. You are not licensing your station.
That would be awesome! We love it when our stations grow. In the event your station grows so that it is no longer covered by your existing license, we will work directly with our friends at SESAC, BMI and ASCAP to facilitate a transfer of your licenses. You will only have to pay an adjusted fee based on how much you have exceeded the thresholds allowed by your Live365 Affiliate Licenses.