Dave Oxenford this week conducted a seminar on legal issues facing broadcasters in their digital media efforts.  The seminar was organized by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, and originated before a group of broadcasters in Lansing, but was webcast live to broadcasters in ten other states.  Dave addressed a variety of legal issues for broadcasters in connection with their website operations and other digital media platforms.  These issues included a discussion of service marks and copyrights, employment matters, music on websites, the use of social media, privacy, and sponsorship disclosure.  The slides used in the Lansing presentation are available here.    During the seminar, Dave also mentioned that stations with websites featuring user-generated content, to help insulate themselves from copyright infringement that might occur in the content posted to their website by their audience, should take advantage of the registration with the Copyright Office that may provide safe harbor protection if a station follows the rules and takes down offending content when identified by a copyright holder.  The Copyright Office instructions for registration can be found here.   

One of the most common issues that arise with radio station websites is the streaming of their programming.  In August, Dave gave a presentation to the Texas Association of Broadcasters providing  a step-by-step guide to streaming issues, with a summary of the royalty rates paid by different types of streaming companies.  That summary to Internet Radio issues is available here.  Additional information about use of music on the Internet can be found in Davis Wright Tremaine’s Guide to The Basics of Music Licensing in a Digital Age.   Dave also presented this seminar at the Connecticut Broadcasters Association’s Annual Convention in Hartford on October 14.

During the webinar, one of the issues that came up in the discussion of music use on the Internet was the provisions of Section 112 of the Copyright Act that allow broadcasters to make "ephemeral copies" of sound recordings to facilitate a broadcast or webcast transmission, but which require that any such copies be kept for no more than 6 months.  As discussed at the seminar, agreements entered into last year by the NAB and major record labels and A2IM, the association that represents that major independent labels, in connection with the NAB/SoundExchange settlement of the dispute over Internet radio royalties, contained provisions that agreed to waive that 6 month limit on the retention of ephemeral copies for broadcasters who signed the settlement agreement on webcasting royalties.  More details about the waiver of this aspect of the ephemeral royalty issue, and about the waivers of the performance complement which would otherwise restrict programming options of webcasters (including how many songs in a row by the same artist could be played) are contained in this post on our blog summarizing the waivers entered into in connection with the NAB/SoundExchange agreement.

The associations which co-sponsored the webinar were the state broadcast associations of the following states:  Illinois, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Indiana.