October 3, 2013

New Media Pirates: The Laws of Online Radio

Radio Maska - Internet Radio Station Logo.
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It’s true that media broadcasting has become far more free form, and that getting a unique internet show to a waiting audience is both simpler and more legal. However, even with new media alternatives like internet radio, broadcasters have to abide by certain laws. Those who don’t simply form a new generation of radio piracy, and face the possibility for shutdown and law suits.

The issues with pirate radio, sometimes known as border blasting, have previously been with the lack of licensing for the broadcasts themselves. Interference with other radio waves and a lack of legal procedure to ensure safe content on the stations led to a number of internet laws. However, internet radio issues stem from an entirely different area.

What distinguishes an online broadcaster from an online radio pirate is what they are transmitting. The world wide web protects the right of people to create their own content and share their own thoughts and opinions. However, it doesn’t cover sharing the work of other people. This frequently includes the broadcast of music that hasn’t been appropriately licensed with the music studio that owns rights to it.

Much like classic pirate radio groups who sent their signal out from boats in international waters, new media pirates often get away with what they’re doing. The reasons are quite different, however. New media pirates often attract only a small group, and their transmissions don’t interfere with anything else. This often keep them below the radar of major music studios. Additionally, new media pirates are difficult to track down. Since most use off-site hosting, studios may have trouble getting in touch with people who are violating music copyright laws through web broadcasts. Further, since stations on the web are relayed in unique ways, it’s easier for an independent broadcaster to successfully deny the claim.

While it’s true that new media pirates often get off without any legal issues, if caught and charges are proved, the penalties are stiff. Free radio options, as well as licensing guides, are available online for those who want to conduct their web radio show lawfully.