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Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Music Licensing Concerns

Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Music Licensing Concerns

If you own a restaurant, bar, or a retail establishment open to the general public, you more than likely play music of some sort at least some of the time. You may simply keep a radio tuned to particular station for ambience and background music, or you may have a dedicated playlist of your customers’ preferred songs that cycles every few hours. In a bar, particularly, you may even have live entertainment, including cover bands and karaoke. It is important to realize, however, that copyright laws apply to the public performance of most music and, therefore, you may need to purchase the rights to play music in your establishment or face potential legal action. This is a common concern for many of my business-owner clients, and as a business law attorney, I am delighted to help them find the solution that best meets their entertainment needs.

Performing Rights Organizations

While federal copyright laws offer songwriters protection against the unlawful use of their intellectual property, intermediaries known as Performing Rights Organizations, or PROs, have been established to make licensing and enforcement easier. Nearly all licensing rights for music played in the United States are held by one of three PROs: Broadcast Music, Incorporated (BMI); American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), and SESAC, formerly an acronym for Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, but currently a stand-alone name.

Restaurants, bars, and other establishments required to obtain licensing will generally acquire a blanket license from each PRO which grants permission to use all of the music it the organization’s catalog. The PRO, for its part, distributes the licensing fees to affiliated music professionals—songwriters, publishers, and composers—as royalties.

Licensing Requirements

According to federal copyright law, a public performance of music is music that is played in any format “in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” For a business, in addition to the more obvious performance of live music, this could mean playing a CD, using MP3s as hold music, and playing the radio at a level intended to reach customers.

In certain situations, such as vendors that provide in-house jukeboxes or subscription services to provide background music, your licensing fees may be included in your service contract. If you are unsure, however, a qualified Naperville business contract attorney can help you find out.

Exceptions to the Rules

Your business may be eligible for an exemption from the normal music licensing rules, depending on its size and if you only utilize television and radio broadcasts. If your business is smaller than 2,000 square feet, or is a food-service or drinking establishment of less than 3,750 square feet, you do not need a license for broadcasted music. If your business is larger, you may still be exempt as long as you do not have more than six loudspeakers total or more than four in one room, more than four televisions total or more than one in a single room, and you do not charge a cover for admittance.

Talk to a Business Lawyer

As with most aspects of business planning, a proactive approach to music licensing is preferable to a reactive one. It can also save you time, stress, and money in legal fees and fines. Whether you wish to obtain a license from a single PRO or from as many as you can, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. We will work with you to review your company’s needs and help you get the legal protection you need. Call 630-756-1160 for a consultation today.

 

Sources:

http://www.nfib.com/article/you-might-need-a-license-to-play-music-in-your-small-business-58346/

http://www.sesac.com/About/About.aspx

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/101

http://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Operations/Regulatory-back-office/11-questions-about-music-licensing

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Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Music Licensing Concerns
Category Business Lawyer
Posted Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

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