Legal questions about playing in public

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maltuna

Legal questions about playing in public

Post by maltuna » Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:25 pm

Let's say I'm at a coffee house on an open mike night, or at a wedding (not for money, but as a favor to someone getting married) or at church, or at a party at someone's house (again, not for money, but for free). Is it legal to play music that is *not* in the public domain in these cases ?

There are a few songs (such as Jack Marshall's arrangement of Catalonian Song, or other arrangements of songs that have copyright protection) that I really love to play, and that I play for friends and family in private settings. But what are the rules for such music when it comes to "public" performances?

I'm not so much interested in the rules of recordings, but rather live performances that are not for profit. Sorry if this has been answered before, but I didn't have much luck searching (I always choose the wrong search terms!). Thanks !

JQ.

Post by JQ. » Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:39 pm

maltuna, don't worry about it, you can play whatever you want at private and public gatherings, including copyrighted pieces. :)

The difference is that certain types of public venues (like a night club that has an open mic night) are required to pay licensing fees to performance rights organizations for the privilege of using music in the venue. That is the venue's responsibility, not the performer's.

joestone

Post by joestone » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:44 am

JQ. wrote:
The difference is that certain types of public venues (like a night club that has an open mic night) are required to pay licensing fees to performance rights organizations for the privilege of using music in the venue. That is the venue's responsibility, not the performer's.
Indeed. Here in Tokyo a bar owner has just been given a 2 year prison sentence and a massive fine for allowing performers to play Beatles' tunes on their guitars on open mic nights at his bar without him paying the requisite licensing fees. I think this whole issue is nonsense anyway (having to pay for the above), and my mood wasn't helped when in the same day's news there was a story about a man who was only given an 18 month prison sentence for rape. :evil: This also reminded me why I try not to read newspapers or watch TV news anymore because it just reinforces my suspicion that the world is going to hell in a hand basket
:cry:

I can see why there needs to be some legal protection for performing copyrighted material for financial gain in public (such as a tribute band raking in the cash by performing Beatles' tunes for example), but come on, a few amateur musicians at an open mic night and the poor bar owner is busted as heavily as this?! Nonsense...

JQ.

Post by JQ. » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:28 am

joestone, please, let's not turn this into a political debate, as such is not allowed here.

Now, I do not know the laws in other countries such as Japan. But in the U.S., a public venue that falls under licensing for copyrighted works (like a bar) will generally negotiate blanket licenses that cover the spectrum, both ASCAP and BMI protected works, for example. There is no particular negotiation to allow the performance of Beatles tunes, as they are covered by one of the performaning rights organizations.

The OP was asking about performing under certain cicumstances and my answer still stands. They can perform copyrighted material live with impunity under said circumstances. Any violations of licensing rights fall to the management of the venue.

ksjazzguitar

Post by ksjazzguitar » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:21 pm

I agree with JQ.

It is not your job to worry about copyrights. They are COPYrights, not PERFORMANCErights. If you want to print the music or record it, then you have to worry about copyrights.

If you are just performing it live, then it is the venues job to deal with it, although not that often and not all venues. You should feel no restriction in what you can play. I have NEVER heard of a performer getting in trouble for a live performance.

Peace,
Kevin

ssanusi

Post by ssanusi » Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:37 am

Sorry for my ignorance, but can I conclude that we can play whatever music we like live as it is the venue owner's responsibilities to ensure the compliance with the law?

I just want to have the peace of mind that I don't have to worry unnecessarily.

Thanks.



Regards,
Sugeng

jab1123

Post by jab1123 » Mon Feb 05, 2007 5:01 pm

This is an interesting topic. Is there not a presumption that if you are performing a copyrighted work you've paid the copyright fee by purchasing the piece? I know venues also pay performance organizations a fee, but it's always puzzled me that a disc jockey could play music anywhere and charge a fee for essentially playing not only the music but the actual performance.
jb

ksjazzguitar

Post by ksjazzguitar » Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:56 am

jab1123 wrote:...Is there not a presumption that if you are performing a copyrighted work you've paid the copyright fee by purchasing the piece? ...
No, not necessarily. Maybe you learned it by ear. I play many jazz gigs where we are just playing tunes by ear.

The fact is that if you are giving a live public performance of some piece of music, you have ZERO obligations with regards to copyright. It is the responsibility of the venue. Please refer to the sections on "public performance."

http://timberens.com/essays/copyrightessay.htm

This is the same info I have seen in many places. Stop worrying about it.

The DJ is a slightly different situation. There, he is playing someone else's RECORDING. That is a very different situation. If it is being broadcast, then there are royalty issues and laws to apply to that. If they are playing a party, then I guess that they may be considered a venue and must pay royalties through ASCP, BMI, etc. Or, maybe they have the right to play the music because they have a legal copy. I don't know because I've never researched it because I have no desire to be a DJ. In any case, even if they are not in full compliance with the law, they probably fall through the cracks. (ASCAP isn't going to sue 10,000 DJs at $100 a pop.)

In any case, the copyright laws pertaining to the live performance of music is not the responsibility of the performer. It never has been and (probably) never will be. Stop worrying about it.

Peace,
Kevin

ssanusi

Post by ssanusi » Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:59 am

Thanks for the clarification. I have been unaware of all these things before.

maltuna

Post by maltuna » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:20 am

Thank you, everyone, for your answers. It really helped me understand what the "rules" are, especially the link to that article.

Still, I'm curious - do churches, elementary and high schools, and places that have weddings and wedding receptions pay these fees as well as bars and other "money making" organizations (that is, performance fees) ?

JQ.

Post by JQ. » Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:03 am

maltuna wrote:Still, I'm curious - do churches, elementary and high schools, and places that have weddings and wedding receptions pay these fees as well as bars and other "money making" organizations (that is, performance fees) ?
I'm not sure exactly how it works with non-profits. There was a big broo-ha over allowing Girls Scouts to sing "Happy Birthday" around the campfire that ended with bad press and ASCAP allowing them a $1/year license. Mentioned here.

Sasquatch51

Post by Sasquatch51 » Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:46 am

The legality of playing in public depends on you. If you're good, it's fine. If you suck, it's illegal. :smorfia:

rob8624
Posts: 271
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:16 pm
Location: Swansea, Wales

Post by rob8624 » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:12 pm

JQ. wrote:The difference is that certain types of public venues (like a night club that has an open mic night) are required to pay licensing fees to performance rights organizations for the privilege of using music in the venue. That is the venue's responsibility, not the performer's.
That's the law in the UK aswell, 100% correct. Even if a landlord wants to play the radio in his pub he must have a performance license.



Rob

guitarrista

Post by guitarrista » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:03 pm

JQ. wrote:
maltuna wrote:Still, I'm curious - do churches, elementary and high schools, and places that have weddings and wedding receptions pay these fees as well as bars and other "money making" organizations (that is, performance fees) ?
I'm not sure exactly how it works with non-profits. There was a big broo-ha over allowing Girls Scouts to sing "Happy Birthday" around the campfire that ended with bad press and ASCAP allowing them a $1/year license. Mentioned here.
Fascinating.. So does anyone know (or know how to find out) just WHAT the regular fees are like? Do they run into the hundreds of dollars or more per usage, are they different (they better be) for a performer of a copyrighted work versus a person who plays a recording of a performer of a copyrighted work, etc?

ksjazzguitar

Post by ksjazzguitar » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:36 pm

Sasquatch51 wrote:The legality of playing in public depends on you. If you're good, it's fine. If you suck, it's illegal. :smorfia:
No, but that's what the law ought to be.

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