How to pay copyrights for streaming music?
September 25, 2008 2:35 PM   Subscribe

First question posted. Hope you can help :-) Together with a friend we are working on writing some online educational materials. As part of this we want to use snippets of commercially available songs and their lyrics (up to 60 seconds) and make them available on our website for streaming (not downloading!). Learners pay for access to the site (on a cost-recovery basis). Learners would access the site from many different countries. We've been trying to find out how to deal with the musical rights issues but don't know who to contact and who to pay, especially since our learners will be from all around the world. How do we find out if, and if so where, we need to pay to whom, and what? Thanks!
posted by sinbarambam to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Probably be best to write to their labels or even, yes, the RIAA (I am assuming you are 'Murican).
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:42 PM on September 25, 2008

Start with the ASCAP web license, BMI web license, and SESAC web license.

That will cover the bulk of popular music from the US, UK, and Europe. You may have to do some direct licensing with the few folks who aren't affiliated with any of the three.

As for other countries' music-licensing organizations, can't help you there, but someone at one of those three organizations might be able to give you a lead.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:50 PM on September 25, 2008

Thanks Sidhedevil, but from what I gather licensing it with those companies only gives you the right to use the music in the US or wherever the licensing company operates. But what if you use the music globally?
posted by sinbarambam at 3:02 PM on September 25, 2008

Generally you will get away with a lot more if you use a 30 second clip. The licences for 30 second clips are a lot cheaper. With 30 seconds you have a far better argument for "fair use" and I believe there are digital music aggregators that can provide you access to the clips - you can probably also take them from Amazon.

In addition I believe you will find that you will be able to install and license streaming clips direct from the API provided by RealNetworks's Rhapsody service - and currently the streaming works internationally. Check out an implementation of it within iLike as part of Facebook - you can attach Rhapsody tracks to mails you send your friends.
posted by skylar at 3:48 PM on September 25, 2008

Is there some reason you must use such restrictively licensed music? There's a ton of Creative Commons licensed music out there, and some very good stuff just a few doors down at MeFi Music. Even if you are not teaching people about dick-punching.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:52 PM on September 25, 2008

from what I gather licensing it with those companies only gives you the right to use the music in the US or wherever the licensing company operates. But what if you use the music globally?

They will be able to put you in touch with the appropriate licensing organizations in other countries and areas of the world. I don't think there is any one-stop global music licensing organization.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:56 PM on September 25, 2008

That said, it occurs to me that another good place to contact is IFPI--not a licensing organization, but an international professional association for the recording industry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:59 PM on September 25, 2008

Rock Steady - yes, we want to use popular music people are likely to know (for learning purposes)...

Thanks skylar - good point about the 30 seconds and thanks for the link. Will follow up on that. .
posted by sinbarambam at 2:31 PM on September 26, 2008

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