Is Streaming on the Internet a Broadcast?

A recent Australian Federal Court case determined whether whether the scope of the non-exclusive licence of the right to broadcast certain sound recordings granted by a copyright collection agency to radio stations included the right to play those recordings in radio programs transmitted by FM broadcast as a simulcast with transmission of the same program via the Internet.

"The service which transmits the very same radio programs at essentially the same time both to the FM transmitters and beyond and to the web stream servers and beyond is the one service. On the facts before me, the members of CRA who stream their radio programs on the Internet do so only as part of a program package which also simultaneously transmits those programs via frequency modulated radio waves to the consumer’s FM receiver. In truth, the service is but one service being a service which combines various delivery methods or platforms and which delivers the same radio program using the broadcasting services band. It falls within the exception to the exclusion set out in the Ministerial Determination.

Therefore, in my view, the service provided by the members of CRA is a broadcasting service.

That being so, the simulcast transmission of the same radio program via the FM waves and the Internet is also a “broadcast” within the current definition of that term in s 10(1) of the Copyright Act and, for that reason, is within the scope of the licence which PPCA agreed to grant to the members of CRA and which it did grant from time to time to members of CRA upon the terms and conditions set out in the Member Agreement."

See Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd v Commercial Radio Australia Limited [2012] FCA 93 (15 February 2012)

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