Turntable.fm, the streaming service that allows users to listen to songs of their choosing with multiple users simultaneously, has already hit a major stumbling block. Over the weekend, the start-up was forced to shut down service to users outside of the United States.
“To all our international friends, we’re sorry you can’t use turntable right now due to licensing constraints,” Turntable.fm told its users in a tweet on Saturday. “Trying to get you back in asap.”
Turntable.fm’s service is at least theoretically protected in the United States by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows for “non-interactive” streaming audio without requiring licenses from labels and artists. This protects radio stations such as WFMU, East Village Radio and KEXP that broadcast online, and recommendation services such as Pandora. There is no equivalent to the DMCA overseas, which could mean that Turntable.fm will need to become a U.S.-only operation like Pandora.
Turntable.fm’s DMCA defense may not actually protect it in the United States. Given that much of the appeal of Turntable.fm is in its interactive nature, the service is vulnerable to attack in a U.S. court. If you’re interested in using the service, now may be the time to get on board in case the plug gets pulled on the start-up in America next.