I seek armchair legal advice and/or precedents.
(This is probably stupid since odds are that I know more about the issues I'm asking about than you do, but hell, it's worth a shot.)
See, something I've been wanting to do for a while is some kind of "song of the day" thing, where I pick one of the songs I'm currently loving and post it: "here, you should all listen to this."
But, I'm having a hard time convincing myself that doing so would be legal, even though (wearing my DNA Lounge hat) I do pay the license fees to ASCAP, etc. for both our public performances and webcasts.
Plan B, which I'm fairly certain is legal, would be to program a "radio station" instead that streamed a set of songs on shuffle (which is exactly the mechanism I use for DNA Lounge Radio). But, that isn't really the same thing, and also sounds like a lot more work. So I'd rather not do it that way. (By "a lot more work" I don't mean technically, I mean more effort in playing song-gardener.)
Plan C would be to do a periodic "mix tape", meaning, 90 minutes of music in one chunk. I think I could manage that pace, since it comes out to around 2 songs a day if I do it weekly.
I'm pretty sure that streaming such a thing would be legal. But would podcasting it?
Who can tell.
Podcasting means that everyone who tuned in would be downloading one big MP3 file with 20+ songs in it. Is that covered by my licenses? I have no idea. Some radio stations do it. Are they breaking the law? Are things different for them because they happen to own transmitters as well?
I suspect that there are a lot of podcasts like that out there (just some guy posting songs that he likes this week, regardless of whether they are signed or not) but I don't actually know of any. When I look at podcast directories I find a lot of talk radio, a lot of unsigned-bands podcasts, and a few "real" radio stations. Am I wrong in assuming that what I'm describing is a commonly-done thing?
Some people try to solve the license problem by only posting non-RIAA music, or by only posting songs by unsigned bands who have given their explicit permission. I don't find that the signedness of a band has much bearing on whether I enjoy them. If I have to constantly have a conversation with myself that goes "I love this song! Oh, but I can't post this one," then I'll just give up and not do it at all. So, no, I'm not interested in doing it that way.
That's also why I'm not interested in solutions like "link to the song on last.fm" -- they won't have half the songs I'm interested in. Likewise, any solution where I have to jump through per-song legal hoops is no good.
I've read this: "Creative Commons Podcasting Legal Guide", which is... complete chaos, not to mention 50 pages long. Maybe it says that my licenses cover what I'm talking about, but I can't tell. And this: "Collegiate Broadcasters, Inc. Podcasting Legal Issues" which seems to claim that no podcast is ever legal without explicit permission from each copyright holder. And this 2+ year old article: "Hopes for legal music podcasts rise" (yeah right, I'm still holding my breath.)
(Oh, also please don't suggest "why don't you just ask your lawyer", because if you're suggesting that, you've never actually spoken to a lawyer. The lawyer's answer will be, "doing X might put you at risk. If you want to be safe, don't.")
Note: I am not asking for technical solutions here. I've been webcasting for seven years, I know how to do it.
Update: So far, nobody has answered my question of, "are there are a bunch of podcasts out there that do what I described in Plan C?"