Important Ideas

by Frank Nora, Feb. 11, 2011

The Overnightscape Underground (Onsug) is an Internet talk radio station focused on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts. It is a very open environment, but even in such an place, some guidelines are needed. So here are some of the important ideas behind Onsug…

AUDIO – The focus on Onsug is audio. Other kinds of media may be peripherally involved, but audio is the central medium.

ARCHIVING – The idea is that all of the shows in Onsug will be preserved and made freely available to everyone, on into the foreseeable future.

CREATIVE COMMONS – All shows are owned by and produced by the hosts themselves. But in order to include a show here in Onsug, it needs to be released under a Creative Commons license. This gives not only me, but everyone, permission to share the shows. There are different CC licenses, with different restrictions, but they all allow for unlimited non-commercial sharing. Onsug is but one of many potential channels that could distribute shows like these.

COMMERCIAL MUSIC – In order to release a show under a CC license, you need to have the right to do it. You cannot include audio that is copyrighted by someone else if you don’t have permission. The exception to this is called Fair Use – a law that is extremely vague. Of special concern is commercial music – which should only be included under Fair Use. My understand is that using such music for intros, outros, bumpers, beds, background music, etc. is not fair use at all – no matter how short the clip is. To be Fair Use the material in question has to be used sparingly, and be something referred to in the show itself. Using it as a reference as opposed to using it for its inherent entertainment value. It’s very important to me that hosts are mindful of any use of commercial music in their shows. (There is an enormous amount of CC licensed music ont he Internet you can use, such as on Jamendo.com.)

CONTENT – There are a variety of shows on Onsug now, and while all very different, they all share a certain tone, a certain feel. A sense of adventure, a love of pop culture, the ups and downs of daily life. There is a directness, a genuineness to the shows. So as new shows are added to the channel, I want to make sure the show fits in with the style we have established.

CAPACITY – The way Onsug is set up right now, we are approaching a point where it might not be practical to continue adding more shows. The current setup is limited in a number of ways. But I think it would be very possible for people to set up additional channels on their own to pick up the slack if need be.

OFFENSIVE CONTENT – This is the hardest category to define, because there’s really no way to define it. First of all, there are no “FCC restrictions” on Internet radio. Use of “curse words” is allowed, but try not to go overboard. Of greater concern is content that is disparaging toward people because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, etc. Of course issues relating to these differences are a part of our world, and commentary is always welcome. However, there’s a fine line with this kind of stuff – such commentary can be witty and insightful if handled well, or ugly and abusive if handled poorly. At an extreme, this is the kind of content I would not want to be associated with.

ADVERTISING / PROMOTION – Onsug is an ad-free environment. Some shows do have ads – but they edit them out and make a separate version for Onsug. You are free to promote your own projects, whether they be commercial or non-commercial, and of course promote anything you feel is worthy. (However – promoting weird stuff like marketing scams, religious cults, or anything else that could hurt our listeners is not allowed on the channel.) We want to stay away from any kind of sponsorship or paid promotion – because we want to keep this a non-commercial environment, in part to satisfy the non-commercial aspect of most of the CC licenses.

INDEPENDENCE – All these rules only have to do with your show being included on Onsug. These days, recording a show is very easy. And you can post it on Archive.org for free. Onsug is a collection of shows, that I am ultimately responsible for choosing. You are free to start your own channel in the same way. But Onsug has grown into more than a channel – it is an Internet community. It’s all very new and no one has quite figured it all out. But I hope these basic concepts will help us continue to move forward.