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The Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society and the Performing Right Society have launched a licensing scheme for music podcasters. The MCPS and PRS plan to assess the operation of the licence and update the scheme early next year.

Podcasting is the creation of audio (or video) content for download to a mobile device or computer for an audience to listen to where and when they want to. According to Steve Porter, MD of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, the medium has exploded into life over the last six months.

"It has quickly moved from the efforts of a few hobbyists into an accepted method of distributing content," he said. "We are introducing this licence as quickly as possible to enable music podcasters to trade legitimately over the next year."

The licence will allow podcasters to use the global repertoire of musical works represented by the alliance - some 10m musical works - by granting the necessary writer/publisher permissions for inclusion of their works within the podcast.

The royalty rate for the scheme will be the greater of 12 per cent of gross revenue or the minimum fee per track downloaded as part of the podcast: full-track 1.5p; half-track (less than 50 per cent by duration) 0.75p.

Under the scheme, where podcasters do not use digital rights management technology on their podcasts, they will have to comply with certain conditions.

In particular, the podcaster will be required to:

  • obscure at least 10 seconds at the beginning and end of each individual track played in a podcast with speech or a station ID;
  • deliver podcasts only in their entirety, not individual tracks or portions of a podcast;
  • ensure that music constitutes no more than 80 per cent of the total length of any programme;
  • ensure that the podcast is at least 15 minutes in length; and
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that individual tracks within a podcast are not capable of being ripped and that metadata or other information or data transmitted or downloaded by the podcaster is not used to identify recordings for download from unauthorised databases or sites.

Podcasters will also be obliged not to:

  • produce podcasts that contain recordings from a single artist or that have more than 30 per cent of the musical works written by the same composer or writing partnership;
  • play any individual track more than once in any single programme;
  • provide an electronic guide to the podcast which contains tracks played and corresponding times;
  • insert any flags or other markers in the podcast which may directly indicate or which may be used to indirectly infer the start and end point of tracks or segments of copyright content;
  • incorporate repertoire works into advertising; or
  • use the repertoire in such a way as may be taken to imply that any goods or services are endorsed, advertised or associated with the repertoire or any artist whose performance is contained on the repertoire or any other party who owns rights in connection with the repertoire.

The alliance is also providing cover for podcasts that generate low levels of revenue and usage, by incorporating the medium into an update of its Limited Online Exploitation Licence (LOEL) - due to be launched in the second quarter of 2006.

Non-music podcasts (e.g. predominantly speech with very little music) will be licensed under a new on-demand scheme for non-music services, which is being prepared for launch at the end of April 2006.

The podcast licence is not the first of its kind. AIM, the UK's Association of Independent Music, launched a trial of its own version of the licence back in December.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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