At this year’s NAB Convention, digital issues were much talked about. In fact, the NAB held, for the first time, a day and a half session focusing on radio stations and their digital efforts, called the Digital Strategies Exchange. I was on a panel called the Consultant’s Corner, and discussed legal issues that broadcasters may face as they move more and more into the digital world. The PowerPoint slides that accompanied my presentation can be found here.
Digital issues for broadcasters go far beyond the streaming royalties for webcasting that we have written about so much in these pages. Recent cases, like the one that we wrote about here, have imposed the FCC’s disclosure requirements on contests conducted on a station website that is even mentioned on-air. Broadcasters need to be careful about protecting their branding, as putting a slogan or positioning statement on the Internet makes it available to people worldwide. If a station has not been careful in picking its branding statement, the worldwide exposure can just be an alert of a potential infringement to a trademark or service mark owner. Using music online in ways other than webcasting can pose legal issues as we explained in our advisory here. Sponsorship identification obligations like those that apply to broadcasters have been imposed on online media where companies are given any consideration for endorsements or testimonials (see our article here). And allowing listeners to post videos or music or other content could potentially lead to liability for any copyright violations if a station does not register an agent with the Copyright Office to receive notices of infringement so that the station can take down infringing content (the Copyright Office’s instructions for doing so can be found by clicking here). These are but a few of the issues covered in my presentation in Las Vegas. As in any other business endeavor, make sure that you know the rules of the road to avoid the legal issues that might otherwise arise.