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Music Licensing from a Lawyer’s Point of View

Posted by John on September 10th, 2018

Here’s a well researched article about the legal side of playing music in a restaurant, bar, or in any business. It comes from two lawyers who specialize in communications, technology, media, copyright law and intellectual property matters – experts in the area of music being compliant, legal and licensed when played in a business.

Don’t Ruin a Perfect Evening: Get the Appropriate Licenses for Radio and TV in Restaurants and Bars

The highlights:
Rights for music and audiovisual content need to be secured, and the failure to do so can cause as much heartburn as a bad meal.

Almost all songs have a copyright. Most copyright holders have the right to control the “public performance” of their works. That means that the copyright owner usually has the right to approve when his or her work is performed in a public venue. You can listen to the song in your home without any copyright implications but playing that song in your place of business (public venue) is a “public performance” and falls under certain federal licensing rules.

Businesses that play their own selection of music will typically need licenses from all of the licensing agencies. That’s a hassle to obtain licenses on your own. The easy way is to use a music service, such as Custom Channels. The license fees are covered by the service and the costs of the rights fees are bundled into the monthly fee the business pays to the music service.

Restaurants, bars, and any business can get hit with a lawsuit for a copyright violation because they did not get the rights to play music or audiovisual content in their establishment. Don’t let that be you.

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