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Heading Underground or Up North

NMC/Radio and Records eChart main column as published in the 7/12/02 issue of R&R It's already beginning: the CARP decision has brought out both opportunists and code jockeys, bent on bending the rules to let streaming sites keep streaming. And there's not a single apology to be heard.

Previously: Spoofing By Law >>
Next: Take Off The Brakes >>

First, I get this e-mail from a certain Stephen Abraham from IceRadio in Canada:

From: Stephen@iceradio.ca To: david@netmusiccountdown.com

Hi David,

I'm writing because IceRadio is offering internet radio broadcast services and bandwidth at a very low price point. This package is offered as a test, and will only be available for a short time.

We are offering, radio broadcast services and bandwidth from Canada for up to 30,000 listener-hours (at 24kbps) for only US$500/month. Since the broadcast is conducted from Canada, CARP fees do not apply. The CARP fees alone for broadcasting 30,000 hours would be almost $300 (assuming 14 songs per hour X 30,000 hours X .07 cents = $294).

Since this is a test, we will not charge for setup. Please let me know if you are interested.



Note that the selling point here is hardly a good deal on bandwidth, it's that you won't be subject to CARP. No doubt, the Eastern Europeans will be jumping on this bandwagon as well, but adding additional code that will redirect the caller's modem to a long distance number at $9.00 a minute to complete the scam.

Aside from the questionable ethics involved, this is just the sort of thing that would send our Commerce and State department scurrying about to talk to Canada about shutting down this effort. But Stephen's company is hardly the only "solution" being offered to battered streamcasters: there's Iain MacLeod to deal with.

Macleod is a UK programmer who's trying to kill two birds with the same technological stone: create ad hoc multicasting to conserve server-side bandwidth, and move the streaming community to the underground to avoid detection and hence CARP (and for that matter, ASCAP/BMI/SESAC) fees. His product is called Streamer, if you can call it a "product" at all - it's actually still quite barebones. Streamer's very similar to Blue Falcon's technology - it sets up a peering network on the fly among listeners of the signal.

As the source is played, each listener is recruited to not only listen to the music, but then also re-broadcast the data on to the next listener in the system. Streamer is also completely anonymous. MacLeod says that he doesn't like that large labels in the US are driving stations to shut down, and, "as a fan and a programmer, I'm doing something about it." And yet another arms race is born.

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