ARE YOU DOING THE RIGHT THING?
Music is an integral element in the success of your restaurant, cafe, pub, hotel or retail store. It’s possible to attract different types of customers with the right mix of music – for example in restaurants, soft jazz music for executives by day and funky music with drinks by night attracts different people. Likewise in the retail environment different types of music will attract different customers and encourage them to stay longer. But are you doing the right thing? This guide has been created to educate you on the do’s and dont’s of using background music whether you own a restaurant, spa, bar, hotel, retail or any public space area that requires a music vibe.
When someone creates a piece of music (or a piece of text, a graphic, a photo, a film or anything else that is protected under copyright laws), a whole system of legal rights and obligations comes into play. These rights and obligations outline what someone can and can’t do with the material
Who owns the copyright in a piece of music?
There is generally more than one owner of copyright in any given musical track. The composer who wrote the music owns copyright in the musical works. The lyricist who wrote the lyrics owns copyright in the literary works. The artist who performed the music owns copyright in a sound recording of their live performance. Finally, the maker of the recording (typically a record company) owns copyright in the sound recording.
What rights do the copyright owners have?
The copyright owners (i.e. the owner of the work and the owner of the recording respectively) have a number of exclusive rights including the right to:
- Make copies of the tracks
- Perform music in public (e.g. by playing the tracks in hotel, cafe or retail store)
- Communicate the tracks to the public.
I bought a legitimate CD. Can I make copies for use in my spa, restaurant, hotel or retail store?
The purchase of a CD only gives you the right to own the physical disc, to play it privately, and to pass on the same physical disc to another person. This means that copying the music from a CD including onto an iPod, without the permission of all relevant copyright owners, is an infringement of copyright except in very limited circumstances. Recent changes to the Copyright Act allow you to “format shift” music for personal use, for example, to copy from CD format to MP3 format in certain limited situations. However, this does not extend to use of the music in any commercial setting.
Is it illegal for me to download music from the internet and play it in my store?
The basic legal principle is that you cannot copy or distribute music including from the internet without the
permission of all relevant copyright owners. If you legitimately buy music from iTunes or other legal online distributors you should check their terms and conditions to make sure that you are licensed for the relevant purpose, including using as background music in a cafe or retail store. (see iTunes Software Agreement Above)
Can I be fined for music piracy?
Music pirates can be fined up to $60,500 and punished with up to 5 years imprisonment for each offence. For companies, the fines are up to 5 times as much. Under recent changes to the Copyright Act the police can also issue an on-the-spot fine of $1320 and seize pirate music.
Respect copyright in music
Stealing music is the same as stealing anything else. It is illegal and the consequences are real, for artists, songwriters, you, and for the future of music. You wouldn’t sit by and let somebody steal products from your store. Unauthorized copying or downloading, whether from CDs or the internet, for use as background music has a major effect on the music industry. And it’s not free at all – it is the musicians, artists, sound technicians, legitimate background music providers and all the other people involved in the music industry who are paying the price with less music being sold. People’s livelihoods are affected. Further, as a result of piracy there is less money to be invested in new talent, which ultimately means less music available for background music.
We’ve Got You Covered
When playing or performing music in public, like in your business, you must have the proper rights. Whether it’s a coffee shop, shoe store, medical office, hotel, spa, gym, hair salon, or whatever, a business must have the proper licenses to play music.
The purpose of the United States Copyright Law is to protect the rights of artists, authors, composers and publishers to their work. When anyone plays or performs music in public, or distributes music in any form, they must have the rights to that music. If not, U.S. federal copyright laws call for severe legal and financial penalties.
While these licenses also protect you, they are really designed to protect the artists you know and love so they receive the proper compensation for their work and can continue to write and create the music that entertains the world.
Prior to using music in a business setting, a business must secure several rights.
Master Rights – The right of the actual sound recording, owned by the record label and/or artist. To make a copy of the sound recording, an individual or a business requires a license from the owners.
Mechanical Rights – The right of the author, composer and publisher of the musical composition, the song’s music and lyrics, referred to legally as the “underlying sound recording.” To make a copy of the song, a business needs to secure the mechanical rights from the publisher directly or through The Harry Fox Agency who may be the publisher’s administrator.
Performance Rights – The right to publicly perform a musical composition within a business. A performance includes the use of any form of music player, including but not limited to, an mp3 or CD player or any form of broadcast, such as AM/FM or satellite radio. These rights are either administered directly from the publisher or through performing rights organizations such as ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) or SESAC.