Thursday, May 05, 2016

Facing the music: The risk of copyright infringement

From Hotel News Now:

In the digital age, music is omnipresent and access is immediate.

Hotel operators, eager to improve the guest experience and elevate their brands, are assessing and enhancing the presentation of music at their properties.

But along with the rise of online streaming, satellite radio and curated playlists comes the risk of copyright infringement. The hospitality industry is an easy target for such claims.

A hospitality establishment generally must have a license to legally play music to the public, regardless of the method of play, which may include hosting a live band in an on-site club or bar, streaming a playlist from an internet music service, or even playing music that you purchased and stored on your own iPod.

This license requirement is both administered and enforced by performing rights organizations. There are three such organizations in the United States: Broadcast Music; The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; and The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers. The PROs act as licensing intermediaries for songwriters; in exchange for a fee, they issue blanket licenses that grant licensees permission to use the entire catalogue of music that each PRO represents.

On the enforcement side, BMI and ASCAP are the two largest PROs, and these two alone file approximately 400 to 500 lawsuits every year for violations of the Copyright Act by hotels, restaurants, bars and other venues open to the public.

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