Foster J has ruled that radio stations do not have to pay an additional licence fee to the record companies for simultaneously transmitting their radio broadcasts over the internet.

If you want to understand how recorded music is licensed to the radio stations, this is a good place to start.

The broadcasting of recorded music over the “airways” by the commercial radio stations is covered by licence agreements with PPCA. When the radio stations broadcast recorded music as part of a “program”, the audio stream is split between the FM and DAB+ radio bands and a webcast service; that is, the audio stream is sent to 3 different distribution means.

In deciding what is comprehended within the broadcast right under the Copyright Act (see ss 85(1) and 10(1)), it is necessary to determine what is included in a “broadcast service” under the Broadcasting Services Act. The relevant Ministerial Determination under this legislation excluded from the definition of “broadcasting service”:

.. [any] service that makes available television programs or radio programs using the Internet

but then excepted from that:

… [any] service that delivers television programs or radio programs using the broadcast services bands.

Foster J considered this definition required him to focus on what was “the service” and not just the means of transmission:

130 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.

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

132 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.

Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd v Commercial Radio Australia Limited [2012] FCA 93