Have you ever been to an old hole-in-the-wall restaurant or bar on karaoke night and sang your favorite Billboard hit? Well, I have. Did you know the music and lyrics you are singing with is an act of copyright infringement if not licensed by the publisher? In fact, even if the music is coming from an mp3 player containing songs downloaded from iTunes whereas you legally “purchased” the material, you still yet must be licensed, if rights are owned, to play for your restaurant and/or bar. Additionally, ASCAP, one of the nation’s most successful publishing rights organizations, considers their music property just as any other asset. And if you use some else’s property without permission, that would be theft, right? “…the songwriter wants you to use their property – they just want you to pay for it,” Vincent Candilora, the senior vice president for licensing at ASCAP, stated. So, the use of music by these businesses is theft in the eyes of the rightful beholder, but isn’t the “improper” use of this “infringed” music a little drastic? Not to the publisher.
Mallonn’s Grill & Bar in nearby Canton, Ohio was sued by BMI, Broadcast Music Inc., for playing in the background of their establishment songs by Kid Rock, Dave Grohl and other licensed artists without paying licensing royalties. BMI also filed a lawsuit against a sports bar in Lewiston, Idaho for playing music by the ever-so-popular Taylor Swift and other unnamed composers. BMI makes millions off of these songs and artists in every aspect and now they want to milk entrepreneurs for more. Now, I understand that downloading songs illegally is a crime, but if the songs were achieved legally, the right to play that music should be granted wherever and whenever necessary. Though it’s not, is this a little farfetched of an idea to consider playing music publicly thievery? It’s not like the business is making money off the music and trying to sell it, they just want their guests to be comfortable and...
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