Tag Archives: Internet Radio

TuneIn ruling may lead to a more restrictive future for UK smart speaker and Internet radio users

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David, who writes:

I live in the UK and, like many of your readers and contributors, one of the aspects of the radio hobby I enjoy is ‘content DXing’. As of yesterday [September 9, 2020], all of the US-based classical music stations and even some European news outlets are no longer available through TuneIn.

This appears to be because of a court ruling which identifies TuneIn as a ‘broadcaster & communicator’ rather than – as TuneIn itself claims – an indexer of available stations.

I’m assuming Direct Streams from each station are still available but I can’t help but worry that station aggregators might also be in the firing line at some stage.

Thank you for sharing this, David.

Implications Beyond TuneIn?

At first blush, one might think this ruling only applies to TuneIn users, but it certainly sets the stage for further law suits since TuneIn isn’t the only “audio guide service” accessible in the UK.

Check out this article David shared from November 2019 when the ruling originally took place:

In 2017, Sony and Warner sued US-based radio service TuneIn, claiming the company infringed its copyrights in the UK. A judgment handed down today by the High Court states that while TuneIn does not offer content itself, the provision of hyperlinks to content not officially licensed in the UK constitutes a communication to the public and is therefore infringement.

TuneIn is one of the most prominent and recognizable providers of radio content in the world.

Available for free or on a premium basis, the service offers access to well over 100,000 radio stations and millions of podcasts. It doesn’t provide this content itself but acts as an indexer (“audio guide service”, according to TuneIn) for those looking to access third-party streams.

In 2017 it emerged that Sony Music UK and Warner Music UK had sued the US-based company in the UK, claiming that since many of the TuneIn-indexed stations are unlicensed to play music in the region, linking to them amounts to infringement of the labels’ copyrights.

Today, the High Court of England Wales handed down its decision and it doesn’t look good for TuneIn. The judgment begins by stating the opposing positions of the labels and TuneIn, which are particularly familiar in these types of disputes concerning hyperlinking.

“The claimants say that a finding for the defendant will fatally undermine copyright. The defendant says that a finding for the claimants will break the internet,” Justice Birss writes.

The labels argued that TuneIn needs a license, an assertion “strongly disputed” by TuneIn. The company argued that it does not “store any music, and merely provides users of TuneIn Radio with hyperlinks to works which have already been made freely available on the internet without any geographic or other restriction.”

In other words, TuneIn presents itself as not unlike Google search but instead of indexing websites, it indexes and links to radio streams. However, Justice Birss declared the service to be “much more than that”, in part due to its curation and search features.

“I find therefore that the activity of TuneIn does amount to an act of communication of the relevant works; and also that that act of communication is to a ‘public’, in the sense of being to an indeterminate and fairly large number of persons,” he writes.[]

Indeed, this is essentially what all station aggregators do: they index, curate, and make streaming audio content readily available via Internet media devices like WiFi Radios.

While most WiFi radio station aggregators don’t have the app and web browser-based following and popularity of TuneIn, they do offer the “curation and search features” which lead Justice Birss to side with Sony and Warner.

UK Sonos Users Affected

David also points out complaints from Sonos users in the UK who have been directly affected by the TuneIn ruling. One Sonos owner commented:

Dear Sonos: can you see the enormity of the damage that’s been inflicted to your product? A major feature of the product has been devalued – at least for UK customers. Internet radio is 90% of what I use Sonos for; 80% of my listening is non-UK. Stopped working overnight. And you seem to be just as surprised as I am. How come you didn’t see this coming? You send me an email whenever you have something new to sell. Why didn’t you send me an email to warn me that this predictable event was going to hit me? You don’t seem to have a mitigation plan. You don’t have a how-to-workaround or this-is-what-we-are-doing-to-fix-it article in an prominent place on your web site.

Note that it’s not only TuneIn that’s now broken but also Sonos Radio. “Sonos Radio is an Internet radio service, exclusively available on Sonos. It features 60,000 radio stations from around the world”, it says on the tin. No it doesn’t anymore. They are still all there but they don’t work when you click on them.

From Sonos’s vantage point, TuneIn may be a separate entity. But that’s irrelevant from my point of view. I want the functionality that the product promises.

OK there may be some workarounds. I’m sure I’ll find them. But the fact remains that a major feature of the product no longer “just works”. It can still be “made to work”, but that takes a certain level of cyber-literacy.

I’m willing to bet UK users of other streaming media devices and smart speakers–especially devices from companies who aren’t in the business of directly streaming copyrighted music–will eventually have a smaller selection of international content.

Is there a work around?

Surely. But it could require heavy use of a VPN or similar service to trick TuneIn, Sonos, or other Internet devices into believing they’re physically located outside the UK. This may only be a temporary fix, however. Both Netflix and Amazon Video streaming services, for example, began effectively blocking most of the major VPNs a few years ago.

Have you been affected?

To be clear: I’m no expert in streaming media law, so what I’ve presented here are the basics and user reports. These are my own opinions and assumptions about where this ruling could lead.

If you live in the UK and have been directly affected by this ruling, we’d appreciate your comments.

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Radio Globe: A handy way to explore the world of Internet radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares a link to this fascinating project on the excellent Hackday site:

[…]RadioGlobe lets the user tune in over 2000 stations from around the world by spinning a real globe. It works by using two absolute rotary encoders that each have a whopping 1024 positions available. One encoder is stuck into the South Pole, and it reads the lines of longitude as the user spins the globe.

The other encoder is on the left side of the globe, and reads whatever latitude is focused in the reticle. Both encoder are connected to a Raspberry Pi 4, though if you want to replicate this open-source project using the incredibly detailed instructions, he says a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ will work, too.[…]

Just check out this video of Radio Globe in action!

I love it. It’s like a physical version of the amazing Radio Garden website and app.

Hackaday notes that if you want detailed information about this project, the designer made a series of vlog posts about the build. Click here to check it out on his website. Click here to read through build details on Instructables.

Thank you for the tip, Dennis!

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Pizzoloruss’s CityRadio: An Internet radio with a nostalgic & simple interface

Source: Wallpaper.com

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares a link to this radio project by Emanuele Pizzolorusso who wishes to combine a modern Internet radio with old-school city-labeled memory buttons. From Wallpaper.com:

CityRadio, designed by Emanuele Pizzolorusso for Italian design brand Palomar, allows you to access local radio around the world, with a simple – and satisfying – click of a physical button. It’s a contemporary re-imagination of radio’s early history, where city names where displayed to identify frequencies. As travel looks to remain restricted for the time being, get your multicultural fix through the airwaves.

Of course, you can go online and access local radio anywhere fairly easily, but for Pizzolorusso, there’s a certain romanticism to, and interconnection with, the act of listening physical object. ‘In my childhood home there was an old portable radio, one of those appliances that had the names of several European cities on the tuning dials – a feature from the time when one could still listen to stations from foreign countries,’ explains the Italian designer, who is based in Helskinki. ‘The list of those places, which to me as a child appeared so mysterious and exotic, stimulated my imagination and gave that ordinary forgotten object a deep sense of magic.’

Press magnetic keys to access 18 different cities around the world – from Barcelona to Beijing, Nairobi to New York.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article.

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Petition calls for BBC to allow streaming on 3rd party sites/apps

 

 

(Source: Southgate ARC)

A petition calling on the BBC to reinstate its internet radio stations to third-party apps has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures.

The petition is asking the broadcaster to reverse its decision to remove BBC stations from TuneIn, a popular app for listening to live internet radio.

The BBC removed its streams from the service at the end of September.

In a blogpost at the time, the BBC said that it was making the move because services like TuneIn do not allow it to collect data on its streams.

Kieran Clifton, the BBC’s director of distribution and business development, said: “We want our programmes, products and services to be the best they can be. And a major way we ensure that is by using meaningful data. Data is more and more important – as it helps us to make more types of programmes we know people like, and equally importantly, identify gaps in our commissioning to ensure we’re making something for all audiences. We also use the data collected about what you watch, listen to or read online to offer personalised programme recommendations – and make our services even more tailored to you.

“When we make our programmes available via third parties, we ask that those platforms either allow you to sign into your BBC account – or provide us with meaningful data directly. Unfortunately, TuneIn doesn’t do either of these, so we couldn’t reach a data sharing agreement with them.”

According to the petition, however, the move means that many listeners with digital radio devices can no longer listen to BBC stations.

The petition’s creator, Julian Prokaza, said: “The changes mean that a great many new internet devices are now effectively obsolete for people who used them mainly to listen to BBC radio.

“The changes also do not abide by the BBC remit of ‘making sure you can watch and listen to our programmes in ways that are both easy and convenient for you.’

“The BBC should restore its TuneIn streams immediately and maintain them at least until fully functional replacement services for affected devices are available.”

Source:
https://www.prolificlondon
.co.uk/marketing-tech-news/other-media-news/2019/10/bbc-internet-radio-petition-gathers-pace

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Security vulnerability affects Imperial Dabman web radios

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

I’m wondering if SWLing Post readers who use Imperial Dabman web
radios might want to read about this serious security vulnerability.

(Source: Threat Post)

Attackers can drop malware, add the device to a botnet or send their own audio streams to compromised devices.

Imperial Dabman IoT radios have a weak password vulnerability that could allow a remote attacker to achieve root access to the gadgets’ embedded Linux BusyBox operating system, gaining control over the device. Adversaries can deliver malware, add a compromised radio to a botnet, send custom audio streams to the device, listen to all station messages as well as uncover the Wi-Fi password for any network the radio is connected to.

The issue (CVE-2019-13473) exists in an always-on, undocumented Telnet service (Telnetd) that connects to Port 23 of the radio. The Telnetd service uses weak passwords with hardcoded credentials, which can be cracked using simple brute-forcing tactics. From there, an attacker can gain unauthorized access to the radio and its OS.

In testing, researchers said that the password compromise took only about 10 minutes using an automated “ncrack” script – perhaps because the hardcoded password was simply, “password.”

Click here to read the full article at Threat Post.

Thank you for the tip, Ed!

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Aggregation aggravation update: Frontier Silicon working on Favorites and Personal Streams

The Sangean WFR-28 WiFi Radio is one of many popular models affected

One of the hottest topics here on the SWLing Post this month is regarding Frontier Silicon and vTuner “aggregation aggravation.”

Let me explain. Earlier this month, Frontier Silicon abruptly dropped vTuner as its radio stream aggregator after vTuner CEO Peter Johnson shut off the service. Johnson stated here on the SWLing Post that he:

“[T]urned off the frontier service just for a couple hours after they backstabbed me.”

One of vTuner’s business clients (a client of Frontier) informed me that Johnson wanted to change the terms of their financial agreement thus used a service blackout to force Frontier’s hand. That seems to be supported by Johnson’s comment.  In the end, we know Frontier dropped vTuner a few days later and has now partnered with Airable.

Regardless of what might have really happened, end-users of the Frontier Silicon service have had to cope with frustrating changes (I own a Sangean WFR-28 and Como Audio Solo which have both been affected).

Without warning, we lost our curated collection of station favorites/bookmarks. Personally, this was a collection of stations I had refined over the better part of three years. To lose them without warning was a bit of a blow to say the least.

To Frontier’s credit, they did implement the new aggregator quickly, but in the process lost some important functionality that was apparently a part of the vTuner service including the ability to save/organize favorites and personal streams. Fortunately, it appears Frontier will address this in the future.

An update from Frontier Silicon

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dogmatix and Bob Faucett who note the following announcements on Frontier Silicon’s website:

“We are currently experiencing a large volume of support queries. We are prioritising adding missing stations and podcasts, and will be responding to all other queries as quickly as possible. Please accept our apologies for the delay in response.”

“Based on customer feedback we are working to add Favourites and Personal Streams into the new service. Please bear with us for a few weeks while we develop and test this functionality.”

This is good news, although it sounds like it might be some time before functionality is in place.

Feeling vulnerable

I’ve received numerous comments and emails from readers regarding this “aggregation aggravation”–the common thread being a sense of vulnerability.

After the service changes, we realized the degree to which our WiFi radio devices are dependent on Frontier Silicon. When service was cut earlier this month, most of our radios couldn’t even connect to streams that were programmed into front panel memory presets. For a while, our WiFi radios became expensive internet appliances that were unable to function as advertised. Those without a traditional FM/AM receiver were essentially useless.

I imagine this could be the case for Internet radios that rely on other aggregators—in other words, the radio is only as good as its online service.

UNDOK App

A number of readers have been sharing positive comments about the Frontier Silicon UNDOK app as a work-around for storing favorites, etc.

I’ve been on the road the past few weeks and have not had time to explore this app myself, so I would certainly appreciate UNDOK experience/advice from readers.

Please comment!

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Frontier Silicon and vTuner aggregation aggravation continues

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post readers who’ve contacted me regarding the ongoing issues with WiFi radios that rely on the Frontier Silicon/vTuner aggregator partnership. Two days ago, we mentioned this in a post about the service outage that affected Sangean and Como Audio WiFi radio devices.

Turns out, the outage was a sign of deeper troubles that will affect any Internet radio device using the Frontier Silicon aggregator. I know that at least Sangean and Como Audio use the service, but I image there are many more, especially in some automobiles. Indeed, this might also affect devices which use the vTuner service.

At present, I am unable to use my Como Audio Solo or the Sangean WFR-28 WiFi radio. Both require re-saving all of the presets.

Sangean posted a short message on their devices yesterday. Dennis Dura notes:

I have the Sangean WFR-28 and just came home to find a message on every preset saying “due to recent changes to our internet radio service, you will need to save your presents again”.

Not only that, but many of the menus of the radio have changed.

And most bizarre, in the Genre setting, they have eliminated “Jazz” as a category, and have added many I’ve never before or heard off. How does a company eliminate a category that is understood across the world?

Como Audio actually sent an email message regarding the lapse of service yesterday evening.

The Como Audio message described, in some detail, what had actually taken place. Much of Como’s message was based on the following message Frontier Silicon posted on their website:

Why did the service change on 7th May 2019?

On 1st May 2019 we experienced a major outage of the Internet Radio & Podcast service used by our customers’ Internet Radio devices. This was caused by issues with a third-party service provider that were outside our control.  The service provider has also informed us that they are unable to ensure service provision beyond week commencing 6th May.  Any such failure to provide the service would have caused the Internet Radio functionality on all our customers’ devices to stop working unless we had taken this remedial action.

As a result, we have made some changes to the way the service is delivered, and you may notice the following changes:

  • We have deployed a replacement service, and configured all devices to use it.  It may take several hours for your device to see the new service.  Older devices may need to be powered off and back on again to force them to see the new service.
  • We are using a new provider for the Internet Radio and Podcast directory.  You may discover some new stations and podcasts that were not previously available, and you may find some stations and podcasts are missing.  If you notice a station or podcast that you think is missing from the database then please raise a support ticket and we will aim to get it added within 2 business days.
  • You may see some slight changes to the menu structure on your devices due to the change of provider.
  • The previous customer portal is no longer available, and so you can no longer use it to add your own stations.  If you would like a station adding to the database then please raise a support ticket and we will aim to get it added within 2 business days.
  • It is no longer possible to recall Favourites.  Depending on your device, we recommend using the Device Presets or Last Listened functionality to recall your favourite stations instead.
  • Any Device Presets that you have previously saved will no longer work and so you will need to resave them.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of these changes, which we have made in order to provide continuity of service for customers and users.  This is a large and complex migration and whilst we have tested and rehearsed this scenario in advance there may be an initial period of reduced service stability.  We will be monitoring the service closely during this time and will communicate any issues via the status page at https://status.frontiersmart.com/.

If you have any further comments or questions about the service then please browse the Knowledge Base, and submit a support ticket if you cannot find the information you are looking for.

Of course, we all know that the “third party” is the vTuner aggregator. I’m curious who Frontier Silicon will use now as an aggregator, or if they’ll self-host the database.

A number of readers have reported issues saving their front panel presets and other favorites. My guess is that this functionality will return after the new service is fully implemented. I also assume Frontier Silicon could implement any missing music genres (like the Jazz genre Dennis mentioned). At least, I hope so.

One thing we’ve learned is how very little is actually stored locally in these WiFi radios. It seems everything down to the front panel presets rely on the aggregator functioning properly.

If you have one of the affected WiFi radios, please comment about your experience getting it back online and loaded with station presets. Please report any quirks you encounter during the process. I’ve gotten mixed reports about the Como and Sangean mobile phone applications working properly.

I shall now go about re-saving all of the presets in my family’s WiFi radios.

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