Controversial serial entrepreneur Michael Robertson is expected to announce a new cloud-based audio service today that will allow users to remotely record shows from close to 600 terrestrial radio stations and access these recordings from anywhere.
Robertson is scheduled to speak at the Launch conference in San Francisco at 3:00 p.m. PST this afternoon. All signs point to him announcing Dar.fm, a service that can be used to record radio shows, store them in the cloud and listen to them on PCs, Android and iOS handhelds, Roku boxes and a variety of other connected devices.
Dar.fm went through a private alpha test with a few select users during the last couple of months, and the site just went live today. Here’s how it brands itself:
“On radio broadcasters determine the schedule. If you’re not in front of your radio you miss out. Using DAR you can record material that interests you and listen at a convenient time. Because recordings are played back you can pause, rewind or fast forward as you wish. Since the material is stored on the Internet you can listen almost anywhere…”
Dar.fm utilizes infrastructure and apps built for Robertson’s embattled music locker service MP3Tunes.com to store and play radio recordings. Users can schedule recordings either by time slot — for example, to record an hour of KCRW’s programming at a certain time, or by show, in which case the service records a show the next time it airs on any of the stations it monitors.
Saved recordings are stored in MP3tunes.com’s personal music lockers, and new users get 2 GB of free storage. MP3Tunes.com also sells additional storage for a fee. There’s no way yet to purchase additional storage through the Dar.fm site, but both services seem to share login data.
The close alignment of Dar.fm and MP3Tunes.com will definitely raise some eyebrows, as does the fact that Dar.fm allows users to record music programming. MP3Tunes is currently fighting with EMI in court over the right to stream personal music collections music to end users without obtaining a license from the record label.
Robertson could run into similar issues with Dar.fm, but he might have a legal precedent on his side: Broadcasters sued Cablevision in 2006 to prevent the launch of a cloud-based DVR to its customers. The cable company won the case on appeal, with a court ruling that Cablevision didn’t own or control the recordings scheduled by end users. The Supreme Court refused to take another stab at the case last year, effectively giving Cablevision the go-ahead for its cloud DVR.
Of course, precedent alone doesn’t mean that Dar.fm won’t get sued anyway, but Robertson is used to battling it out in court. His pioneering music service MP3.com got sued by all the major record labels for a cloud music service, and Universal eventually gained ownership of the service as a result of the lawsuit.
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