Bars, Restaurants Sued Over Background Music
Hundreds of bars and restaurants across the country are being sued for violating music copyrights with their background music.
Just about every retail establishment plays Top 40 hits and other music as a way to appeal to customers. After all, it would be kind of strange to eat a meal without any music in the background -- you'd be forced to listen to the chatter of other patrons.
But did you know that establishments have to pay to play these songs? Just because you can listen to the radio for free in your car or home, doesn't mean a business can do so without paying to obtain the proper licenses, reports the Dayton Daily News.
Businesses across the country learned this lesson the hard way when Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) sued them for copyright infringement for playing their songs without a proper license.
BMI's lawsuits are part of a collective effort by companies holding many copyrights to protect their property. They're meant to serve as a warning to other businesses illegally playing music, reports the Daily News.
This attack on businesses is interesting, as groups like BMI had been known to go after individual downloaders of their music. But given the anonymity of the Internet and the difficulties of tracing some illegal downloaders, BMI may have changed its tactics by going after businesses instead.
While someone downloading a song in a cafe may be extremely difficult to track, a business publicly playing someone else's music is much more obvious.
As a result, these businesses are now paying thousands of dollars for each violation. One bar was ordered to pay $68,000 for 17 violations. That doesn't even account for the business' own time and legal costs.
A music license can be expensive and cost several thousand dollars, but these fees are still a lot lower than litigating against a giant like BMI. If you're being sued over background music, you may want to contact an experienced business lawyer to make sure you're in tune with the law.
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- The Music-Copyright Enforcers (The New York Times)
- What Is a Copyright? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- ASCAP General Music Licensing (ASCAP)
- Browse Business & Commercial Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
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