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DMCA, What is considered a song?

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Here is a question that I can't find a straight answer to on the interwebs. The DMCA says you can't play more than 3 songs in a 3 hours period (2 in a row) from a single album. Here is my question if I interpreting the rules correctly playing the "medley" on Abbey Road or "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" (Chicago) which are meant to be played together would be a violation. In both cases these works comprise of short 1-2 min songs making up one work or suite. Applying the same logic I can play "Thick as a Brick" and a "Passion Play" (Jethro Tull) which are 4 sides of an album (2 CD's) with around an hour and a half of play time. I understand the logic of these rules, but from a programming perspective it is nightmarish. In some cases I can find live versions like Chicago and ELP (Pictures at an Exhibition) which are 1 song on the CD. I am guessing that the artist's decision to split these tracks were based on getting airplay on both AM and FM stations (can anyone say a decision coming back to bite?). How are other folks dealing with this? Are there exceptions for this? Is there any guide? Thanks in advance.




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  • 3 weeks later...

clearly those who constructed the DMCA and approved it, did not check with The Beatles or even most prog rock bands on the viability of these rules.


I understand their intention--to even the playing field between the Biebers of the world and your average indie band--but come on, 3 songs? At least make it an unattainable number, like 5. I don't believe I've heard 5 songs in a row that were meant to be a part of the same composition. Classical music doesn't count because it is not royalty-bearing and is considered, for the most part, 'fair-use'.


Licensing providers who want to limit their liability will probably establish system checks and rules so that their broadcasters do not violate these (somewhat nonsensical) rules/laws. Just because most PRO's don't currently check doesn't mean that one day they won't choose to make an example of [insert affiliate license-providing company here] with a huge lawsuit. It's not necessarily fair, but I think it's smart business.

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The intention of most aspects of the DMCA is really to discourage theft (ripping, in the case of streaming radio). So as far as that goes, I'm in favor. I'm really not interested in paying bandwidth and royalties so someone can add to their personal music collection.


Most of the time when I see DMCA cited on websites dealing with royalties, the word "intentionally" seems to be included a lot, meaning that accidents happen. I agree with shoutcaststreaming - I set my playout and requests systems to follow the rules as best they can, and then I forget about it.

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