Michael Robertson's DAR.fm Told to Cease and Desist by Univision
-- Michael Robertson has attracted more legal problems.
Most recently he was in court with EMI over MP3tunes.com. In the latest legal dustup, his DAR.fm (which stands for digital audio recorder) has received a cease-and-desist order from a law firm representing Univision Communications. DAR.fm allows users to record the Internet broadcasts of terrestrial radio stations and stream them from a personal, cloud-based account. In other words, it allows users to time-shift radio broadcasts just like a Tivo allows TV broadcasts to be time-shifted.
Univision owns and operates 70 stations in 17 U.S. markets and is the country's largest Spanish-language radio broadcaster. The company also includes a TV group that contains 26 stations, although this complaint does not relate to its television broadcasts.
Here's what Robertson told TechCrunch via email: "We don't believe people recording broadcasts is a copyright infringement -- even if done via a cloud service… It is not rebroadcasting just like your VCR is not rebroadcasting. It is personal recording. Courts have consistently ruled that personal recording of broadcasts is not a copyright infringement and does not require a license. This is why consumers can have and use a Tivo/DVR. DAR.fm is simply the identical service for radio."
In the letter to Robertson, Univision's legal firm says they disagree with his characterization of the service as merely a time-shifting service. In particular, Univion's lawyers are taking aim at a feature that allows DAR.fm users to download an MP3 of the recorded radio shows. The feature is "essentially opening the door for users to engage in copyright infringement, since unlimited copies can be made from the downloaded MP3 files and then be distributed to others," it states.
In addition, the letter points out that DAR.fm "is actively promoting" that its paying subscribers can download recordings to PC, Android, iPhone and iPad.
Pandora Issues Gift Cards To Target
-- Pandora is putting out gift cards in brick-and-mortar Target stores across the United States. The amount of the gift card happens to be the price of an annual subscription to Pandora One, the company's ad-free version: $36.
FCC's Copps Shares Thoughts on Media Mergers
-- FCC Commissioner Michael Copps rarely leaves doubt where he stands on an issue. The FCC wouldn't have a say in a record label or publisher merger, but it's worth noting what Copps had to say about mergers at his speech at the Future of Music Summit in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
"How about the FCC just saying 'No!' to some of these God-awful media mergers? How about an FCC that looks at a radio or TV station's performance for the people before it renews their license -- and if we find someone isn't doing their public interest job, we give the license to someone who will? How about positive action on some of the many proposals presented to the Commission to enhance minority and female ownership of America's media properties? I still don't "get" how we can truly reflect this country's awesome diversity if media is owned and operated mostly by white males. And how about more teeth and more certainty in guaranteeing that an open Internet will be there for us and our kids five, ten and twenty years down the road, instead of risking the cableization of perhaps the most opportunity-creating technology in all of history?"
Reactions To Supreme Court's Decision On ASCAP Appeal
-- Commentary is coming in days after the Supreme Court declined to hear ASCAP's appeal and affirmed the lower courts' ruling that downloads do not require an additional public performance royalty.
Lawyer Barry Sookman notes at his blog that the difference between U.S. law and Canadian law on this matter. "[T]hree decisions of the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, Tariff 24 Ringtones, SOCAN v Bell Canada and ESA v CSI, came to a different conclusion," he explains. In all three cases, and for different reasons, the court ruled "a transmission of a short musical file to a customer as part of a purchase transaction is a communication of the musical work to the public by telecommunication." In the Tariff 24 Ringtones case, but not in the other two, the court also ruled that individual transmissions are also communications that are to the "public."
The Digital Media Association (DiMA) applauded the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case. In a statement released Wednesday, DiMA emphasized that the appeals court's decision that a downloaded musical work is transmitted at one point in time and played at another (or potentially not at all, as is unfortunately the case in my own digital music collection).
"A lower court rightly ruled that ASCAP does not deserve an additional royalty payment from online music services that provide downloads, and DiMA and our member companies are pleased that the Supreme Court declined ASCAP's request for appeal of that decision," stated Lee Knife, DiMA's interim executive director. "DiMA's members are committed to paying appropriate royalties, and they pay songwriters and music publishers fairly and fully for digital downloads when reproduction and distribution rights are implicated."