RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

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RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

Postby jon » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:23 am

RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

This message explains why 1,147 unscoped airchecks are currently unavailable. On July 7, 2014, REELRADIO, Inc. received notice from the Recording Industry Association of America regarding non-compliance with conditions of our statutory license. The statutory license allows REELRADIO to stream music sound recordings heard in our "unscoped" airchecks. However, the statutory license requires licensees to observe specific conditions as to the transmission of musical programs online.

The RIAA has determined that our service fails to meet the requirements for "archived programs", which must be at least five hours in duration and may not be made available for more than two weeks. The service must also display the Title, Artist and Album of each featured song, but only while the recording is being performed. You have probably seen this type of "online radio station" elsewhere on the Web.

Obviously, we have no single airchecks with a duration of five hours, and our exhibits are permanent. Our current method for streaming content does not allow real-time metadata, such as artist and title, to be included in the media file.

We have been asked to remedy these violations to continue operating under the statutory license. Further, the RIAA insists that we obtain permission from the copyright owners of these old radio broadcasts. Many broadcasters understand the difficulty of this requirement, since nearly all radio stations have changed ownership, format, and call letters, many times over. Nevertheless, we are expected to provide the RIAA with an explanation of how we have permission from radio stations that no longer exist and copyright owners who have no interest in historic recordings of their property. The law is too narrow and should obviously be amended to include genuine "historical archive" sites, like REELRADIO.

It may be possible to meet the requirements for archived programs, though available technology necessitates that existing airchecks be cut into smaller pieces. Sometimes, there will be an audible "skip", but every time a record plays, you'll know the title and artist, even if there is no album! Further, a system can be devised so that new exhibits and favorites are combined in a five-hour program that disappears after two weeks. Unfortunately, you will not be able to move around in such a file, and you won't be able to select what you want when you want it. While this might meet the requirements of the statutory license, it's not the way you have listened to REELRADIO. It also requires significantly more time to prepare, and has a greater chance of technical failure. It's not ideal, but it would work.

We believe we can continue to feature our 'scoped content, from which the music has been removed, as we did for the first six years of our existence. These airchecks are not streamed under terms of our statutory license, they are streamed under provisions of "fair use." Of course, anyone can do that, and if we can't stream 'scoped airchecks, it would seem that airchecks will be gone from the web entirely.

We have suspended streaming of unscoped airchecks to show our intention of meeting the requirements of the law. Currently, we are not offering renewals or new subscriptions. The RIAA needs our response by August 8, and they can suspend our license entirely, in addition to other penalities as specified in the Copyright Act. Those who subscribed recently are likely to be unhappy about this unforeseen circumstance. Those who have supported this site and organization for years are probably deeply saddened by this turn of events. Please note that our tax-exempt status has not changed. It is our intention to continue with 'scoped airchecks. We will offer unscoped airchecks if we are licensed to do so.

Please excuse the lack of new exhibits while we address this problem. We are greatly appreciative of your support and will be working to resolve these issues.

Richard Irwin, President
REELRADIO, Inc.
Thu Jul 10, 2014

ref. - http://reelradio.com/riaa_announcement.php
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Re: RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

Postby tuned » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:56 am

His mistake was signing an agreement with the RIAA. He should have told them to sod off when they came calling. There is no way they would have taken legal action against his archive of airchecks.
Even though the jingles and some of the elements are protected by copyright it would have been up to each individual copyright holder to go after him. However, now that he's signed an agreement with them the RIAA are going to enforce it. If he had of gotten proper legal advice at the outset he wouldn't have gotten himself into this mess.
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Re: RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

Postby jon » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:18 pm

RIAA vs. Archived Radio: Licenses Mean Abandoning On-Demand
News - Legal and Management - Radio
Billboard
By Rich Appel
July 17, 2014 9:24 AM EDT

If you grew up on Top 40 and want to relive those memories by listening to radio as it sounded then, the good news is there are plenty of websites featuring station airchecks from legendary personalities such as Wolfman Jack and Casey Kasem.

Now the bad news: You might not hear the music those DJs played while they were on the air.

That's because these sites need permission to use copyrighted music. It's a reminder the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently brought to REELRADIO.com, home to over 3,000 airchecks dating back to the early 1950s and the beginning of the format. Sites such as Airchexx.com, also rich with radio history, aren't affected by the RIAA's request to comply with the conditions set for licensed music, as their airchecks are "scoped" (meaning the music has been taken out, leaving just the DJ talk).

As a result of the RIAA's warning on July 11, not only were 1,147 unscoped airchecks (with music) -- over a third of those available on REELRADIO -- temporarily removed from its library, but unscoped radio may no longer be heard on demand, according to REELRADIO, Inc. president Richard Irwin. "For years, [subscribers] could simply find a station, city, year or DJ they liked, click and play that recording. Now I have to create a 'program' of airchecks [that] streams continuously, in a manner that is unfriendly and uncomfortable for subscribers. They can listen, but it may not be something they want to hear. This, however, satisfies the RIAA."

In response, unhappy subscribers contacted the RIAA, interpreting the organization's action, as communicated by Irwin on the website's welcome page, as a legal threat. According to an RIAA spokesperson, "We aren't trying to stop REELRADIO from offering unscoped airchecks. Based on their functionality, some services must get licenses directly from labels [while] some, like REELRADIO, get a statutory license [where] Congress determines the rules. We let REELRADIO know the way it has offered its program doesn't fit within Congress' rules."

For now, the hits will keep on coming at REELRADIO, even if not the way Irwin intended. "I look at the RIAA like a traffic cop who pulls you over for speeding, tells you to slow down and lets you go without writing a ticket. However, if you start driving too fast again, you're still subject to being pulled over, and maybe the next time you'll get one."

Under RIAA threat, radio “aircheck” historical archive at a crossroads
ReelRadio says RIAA demands are not "ideal" and may prompt "technical failure."
Law & Disorder - Civilization & Discontents
ARS Technica
by David Kravets
July 16 2014, 10:51am MST

Under RIAA threat, radio “aircheck” historical archive at a crossroads
ReelRadio says RIAA demands are not "ideal" and may prompt "technical failure."

by David Kravets - July 16 2014, 10:51am MST

ReelRadio, a radio-streaming site dedicated to historical "aircheck" demos, has come under fire from the Recording Industry Association of America, igniting a licensing squabble that places the site's future in doubt.

Founded in 1996, the site (which still looks like it's nearly 20 years old) streams "scoped" and "unscoped" announcer airchecks. On Wednesday, the site said it would suspend the streaming of unscoped content.

Scoped airchecks are edited and play an announcer's voice with the music removed and are fair use to stream. The unscoped ones, which include the music, are at the center of the dispute between the RIAA and the site's president, Richard Irwin. More than 1,147 "unscoped" airchecks are now unavailable following a copyright infringement and licensing flap with the recording studios.

In a message Wednesday, Irwin told ReelRadio fans:

On July 7, 2014, ReelRadio, Inc. received notice from the Recording Industry Association of America regarding non-compliance with conditions of our statutory license. The statutory license allows ReelRadio to stream music sound recordings heard in our "unscoped" airchecks. However, the statutory license requires licensees to observe specific conditions as to the transmission of musical programs online.

The RIAA has determined that our service fails to meet the requirements for "archived programs," which must be at least five hours in duration and may not be made available for more than two weeks. The service must also display the Title, Artist and Album of each featured song, but only while the recording is being performed. You have probably seen this type of "online radio station" elsewhere on the Web.

Obviously, we have no single airchecks with a duration of five hours, and our exhibits are permanent. Our current method for streaming content does not allow real-time metadata, such as artist and title, to be included in the media file.

We have been asked to remedy these violations to continue operating under the statutory license. Further, the RIAA insists that we obtain permission from the copyright owners of these old radio broadcasts. Many broadcasters understand the difficulty of this requirement, since nearly all radio stations have changed ownership, format, and call letters, many times over. Nevertheless, we are expected to provide the RIAA with an explanation of how we have permission from radio stations that no longer exist and copyright owners who have no interest in historic recordings of their property. The law is too narrow and should obviously be amended to include genuine "historical archive" sites, like ReelRadio.

Irwin told listeners that Reel Radio might be able to meet the RIAA's demands, but the site's quality would suffer.

It may be possible to meet the requirements for archived programs, though available technology necessitates that existing airchecks be cut into smaller pieces. Sometimes, there will be an audible "skip", but every time a record plays, you'll know the title and artist, even if there is no album! Further, a system can be devised so that new exhibits and favorites are combined in a five-hour program that disappears after two weeks. Unfortunately, you will not be able to move around in such a file, and you won't be able to select what you want when you want it. While this might meet the requirements of the statutory license, it's not the way you have listened to ReelRadio. It also requires significantly more time to prepare, and has a greater chance of technical failure. It's not ideal, but it would work.

TorrentFreak has best summed up the dilemma:

"The RIAA has given ReelRadio until August 8 to provide its response and holds the ability to close the site entirely by suspending its license. Whether it will choose to do so remains to be seen, but it’s clear that if it does there will be no gain whatsoever to the RIAA, but a really big loss to history," TorrentFreak wrote. Legally the RIAA appears to be on solid ground, but the court of public opinion on preserving nostalgia is likely to see things quite differently."
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Re: RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

Postby jon » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:08 pm

The RIAA notification delivered via e-mail on July 7th, and postal mail on July 9, requested a written response by August 8. The response was written on July 17, submitted to our lawyer for review, approved and set for delivery via FedEx on Tuesday July 22, by 10:30AM local time. Following is the text of that letter.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

REELRADIO, Inc.
Box 340893
Sacramento, CA. 95834-08893


Music Licensing
c/o Recording Industry Association of America
1025 F Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20004


RE: Notice Concerning Non-Compliance with Statutory License Conditions

Dear Music Licensing:

In response to your July 7, 2014 notice of non-compliance with the Statutory License , I am writing to tell you that we have corrected the noted violations to the best of our ability. In reference to your follow-up email message of July 14, 2014, we are not a "music" website and do not care to be listed on your "WhyMusicMatters" website.

Because of the threatening tone of your first message, we believed it was necessary to stop exhibits with music from streaming on-demand. To facilitate music reporting, our exhibit database includes a count of all reportable music performances in every exhibit. Access to all exhibits in our repository is controlled by server software that verifies a valid subscription. On July 9, 2014, this software was modified to refuse requests for exhibits with more than "0" musical performances. Users are directed to a message explaining the compliance issue. Only requests for exhibits that do not contain reportable music performances are sent to the listener.

We had to re-design our service to meet your definition of "archived programs." None of our exhibits comes anywhere close to the five-hour minimum duration required for an "archived program." Most exhibits are about one hour. We have therefore created a program with a minimum length of five hours that features multiple exhibits. It runs continuously and interested listeners can join it wherever it is at the time. However, the element of selection, which they previously enjoyed, has been lost. It's important to note that they were able to select exhibits based on date, station, location, length and disc jockey, but not by the music played on the recording.

We have changed the delivery system for exhibits that contain music. All existing audio file technologies are limited as to the amount of textual data that can be stored in a single audio file. Our exhibits are large, continuous files, and contain multiple music performances, typically as many as 16 in an hour. It is not technologically possible to include all the required information in one file, and no stand-alone technology can display information synchronized to a position in a file. It is also not often possible to know if any song on a radio station recording was played from an album, or a single. Considering the age of the recordings and the radio format we archive, it's highly likely the vast majority of music was played from singles. Also, our existing technology only allows display of Title and Artist. Therefore, our compliance under 17 U.S.C. §114(d)(2)(C)(ix) must be limited to only Title and Artist.

In order to provide the service as described, it is necessary for us to edit each exhibit and break it into smaller files, which are then played back in sequence. The title and artist information can be stored for each individual song on an individual file. In this manner, an exhibit can play while displaying the Title and Artist for each song included in an exhibit. This procedure is time-consuming and requires full-time use of a computer-based "playout" system, but it is our best effort to comply with your notice.

Finally, we do not rely on 17 U.S.C. §114 for rights to the original radio station recordings. We believe these recordings to be "fair use". Our policy has always been to remove any exhibit if a copyright owner requests we do so. We have operated REELRADIO for 19 years, and we have received only one such request, with which we immediately complied. Please keep in mind that the initial audience for the site had a high percentage of current and former broadcasters, and that makes the lack of any claim of infringement all the more remarkable. In general, to be included in our Repository is an honorable thing, and not infringement of any sort.

Should you find additional violations, or have any specific complaint of infringement, please inform me immediately so the issues can be corrected, if possible.

REELRADIO is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and presentation of "Top 40" radio station recordings, primarily from 1955 to 1988. It is intended to honor deceased and living legends of the radio community, the memorable stations where they were heard, and yes, the popular music of the era. The time when local radio stations enraptured young people across the country is gone forever. Two generations of radio listeners remember this era fondly. Our purposes are not inconsistent with RIAA values and purposes, and our voluntary use of the statutory license goes back to 2002 with payment retroactive to 1999. We also pay fees to BMI and ASCAP.

The statutory law was written for online radio stations and Internet "jukebox" systems. It seems to have offered no regulations specific to the archival presentation of historical recordings. Nevertheless, we have made good faith payments to your organization with the knowledge that we were helping support the music community. We are not an online radio station, and we are not a music web site. We are a virtual museum of contemporary radio for baby-boomers.

So that we may continue our support, we need to please our subscribers. They want on-demand choice and access to recordings of radio stations, complete with the music they played. If they no longer support our site, we will have no revenue to continue our support of the RIAA. The initial response to the changes required by your notification have left them severely disappointed. Some are understandably angry, because something they have enjoyed and supported for years has suddenly stopped working.

We urgently request that you consider allowing us to continue using the statutory license with an exemption so that we can restore access to on-demand exhibits of original radio station recordings. Such an exemption would allow a variance with some of the requirements of the statutory law, specifically those you noted in your original notice of non-compliance. We make this request simply because we do not believe the law was written with consideration to our non-profit mission of preservation and presentation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Richard Irwin, President
REELRADIO, Inc.
Wed Jul 23, 2014
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Re: RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

Postby CubbyCam » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:14 pm

A spectacularly well written and carefully thought out response. Hopefully you'll get a similarly thoughtful reply and response. Well done. :worthybow:
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Re: RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

Postby Jack Bennest » Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:26 pm

Very sad

Very
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Re: RIAA Notifies REELRADIO of Non-Compliance

Postby pave » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:23 am

If reasonable people are receiving the missive, ReelRadio should be alright. Otherwise...
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