“Free” Bird? Think again…

If you own a bar, restaurant, or other business that uses a DJ, hosts a karaoke night, or otherwise plays music in public, take notice. Several publishing rights organizations, most notably Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), are out there, and they’re listening.

These companies own the rights to a huge percentage of popular music (millions of songs each), and they demand payment from businesses that use their property. Usually, this payment is in the form of a subscription which allows unlimited use of that company’s library. A typical subscription to BMI, for example, costs about $650. Some businesses, however, choose not to pay for the rights to these copyright protected songs, and play them without paying the owners. If this sounds familiar, be careful. BMI and ASCAP may very well be coming for you.

These two companies sue about 325-425 businesses every year for copyright infringement. These suits can be extremely expensive for the businesses that are targeted, as they can be hit with damages for each and every time a protected song has been played. Often the businesses that are targeted are small – so small, perhaps, that they think they are below the notice of the big publishing rights organizations. But, often enough, they aren’t, and they get that dreaded letter from BMI’s lawyers…

If you are a small (or even a large) bar or restaurant owner, be aware of your responsibilities under copyright law, and avoid running the risk of potentially crippling fines and damage payments. Subscribe to these companies and get the legal right to use their music, or look for musical supply elsewhere – cheaper alternatives exist if you don’t mind giving up most big name artists.

And, as always, if you are looking for used food service equipment, restaurant furniture, commercial kitchen equipment, or anything else for your business, be sure to call the Frog and see how we can help!

One Fat Frog • 2416 Sand Lake Road • Orlando, FL 32809 • 407-480-3409
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