Copyright and the DMCA

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act specifies limits for what can be streamed: We cannot stream albums in their entirety, for example.

Some of our music falls outside the bounds of this law (which restricts how many songs from one album can be played), and you'll hear them on the radio, but not on the web stream.

There's also a rule against moving forward and backward through a stream, so we had to disable "scrolling" of the archive files.

The Long Version:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S. law, passed in 1998, which regulates many aspects of Internet activity. It was established, presumably, to protect the copyrighted material of artists, scientists, writers, etc., in these times of growing technology. Part of this act establishes that the recording industry would have a right to collect royalties for their performers based on Internet "airplay."

It took a while for that to kick in, but in 2003 - amidst much debate and confusion - a set of rules and royalties was established for webcasters to follow. In order to track what songs are played, webcasters must submit thorough reports on every song played by every listener.

We're prepared to do whatever we can to continue streaming. NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have worked hard to help us and other public radio stations, with legal support and coordination of the complicated tasks.

Some DMCA rules affect any archiving of recorded music, since:

  • Archived shows can appear for 14 days consecutively;
  • Archived shows must consist of 4-hour-long files.

Some of these DMCA rules outline restrictions on the frequency some songs can be played.

In any 3-hour period, we can webcast:

  • No more than 3 songs from one album;
    no more than 2 played consecutively
  • No more than 4 songs from a set/compilation;
    no more than 3 played consecutively
  • No more than 4 recorded songs by the same artist
    (live studio appearances are okay)

Shows from our broadcast past that ventured beyond these limits do not appear in the WFUV Archives. There are gaps in the live stream for any entire albums (we fill in with other WFUV music).

Another element of the rules states that listeners should not be able to call up any particular song on demand, so therefore, there should be no way to "scroll" forward or backward through the streaming shows that contain recorded music. We've had to disable that feature on purpose. (We hate it too.)

We have the choice of following the guidelines or giving up our audio presence online.

More info:

Here's some more information about the DMCA, and how to let your feelings about the situation be known:
(web links will open in a new browser window)