Do You Need a License For Internet Radio

Do You Need A License For Internet Radio?

This is a smart and wise question to ask and seek an answer to.

Listeners can tune in to Internet radio stations from anywhere – from their phones, computers, or a wide range of devices like Amazon Alexa. And thanks to evolving technology, broadcasters are becoming better equipped to broadcast from anywhere with an Internet connection. There seems to be nothing stopping you from running your own station! It seems too good to be true, right?

There may be one thing, however, holding you back – content licensing. Do you really need licensing for the content played on your Internet radio channel?

What it often comes down to is the type of content you’re broadcasting online. There is a multitude of Internet radio shows. Music, talk, and sports are a few that come to mind. Some content is copyrighted while other content isn’t.

Talk Radio

You have something to say, and you want people to hear it! It’s your opinion, and you don’t need licensing coverage to say what’s on your mind. However, talk radio is often accompanied by sound bits and music… Yes, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got coverage or have secured direct rights, even for just a single 30-second clip of a song!

Sports Radio

Could you talk about sports 24/7? You won’t need licensing coverage if you just discuss sports. But as with talk radio, clips from last night’s big game and even the occasional song often accompany sports radio. You’ll need to be sure you’re covered there.


The most common type of content that gets broadcast on the radio is music. Streaming music on the internet requires having the rights to both the composition and the sound recording. One is for the person(s) that composed the notes and lyrics, while the other is from the singer and musicians on the recording itself. Unless you’re playing royalty-free music or you’ve secured direct rights to that music (from either the owner or those rights or their representative), you need licensing coverage to stream all your favorite songs.

To top that off, there are certain rules you need to follow under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). To read more about the programming rules included in the DMCA, check my post, What Is DMCA Compliance? Also, check out my video “A Word About Licensing.”

Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended as legal advice. Please consult with qualified professionals if you have specific questions about copyrights and licensing

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