Do I Need Permission and How Do I Get It?
I want to record or videotape a song or record. Do I need permission, and how do I obtain it?
If you want to make copies of, or re-record an existing record, tape or CD, you will probably need the permission of both the music publisher and the record label. A music publisher owns the song (that is, the words and music) and a record company owns the "sound recording" (that is, what you hear... the artist singing, the musicians playing, the entire production).
If you plan to hire your own musicians and singers and create an original recording of a copyrighted song, then you need the permission of only the music publisher.
ASCAP does not license recording rights. Recording rights for most publishers are represented by the Harry Fox Agency.
Harry Fox Agency, Inc.
711 Third Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10017
Tel: (212) 370-5330
Fax: (212) 953-2384
The name and address of the record company should appear on the record label. The Recording Industry Association of America, a trade organization for record labels, can provide you with more information on the rights of record labels.
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
1020 19th St. NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 775-0101
Fax: (202) 775-7253
I'm interested in playing music in my restaurant or other business. I know that I need permission for live performances. Do I need permission if I am using only CD's, records, tapes, radio or TV?
Yes, you will need permission to play records or tapes in your establishment. Permission for radio and television transmissions in your business is not needed if the performance is by means of public communication of TV or radio transmissions by eating, drinking, retail or certain other establishments of a certain size which use a limited number of speakers or TVs, and if the reception is not further transmitted (for example, from one room to another) from the place in which it is received, and there is no admission charge. Your local ASCAP licensing manager can discuss your needs and advise how ASCAP can help you.
Do I need permission to perform music as part of a presentation in class or at a training seminar?
If the performance is part of face to face teaching activity at a non-profit educational institution, permission is not required. Permission is required when music is used as part of training seminars, conventions, or other commercial or business presentations.
Aren't musicians, entertainers and DJ's responsible for obtaining permission for music they perform?
Some people mistakenly assume that musicians and entertainers must obtain licenses to perform copyrighted music or that businesses where music is performed can shift their responsibility to musicians or entertainers. The law says all who participate in, or are responsible for, performances of music are legally responsible. Since it is the business owner who obtains the ultimate benefit from the performance, it is the business owner who obtains the license. Music license fees are one of the many costs of doing business.
What are the exemptions for the reception of radio and television performances in eating and drinking establishments and retail establishments?
An amendment to the Copyright Act, designed to clarify and expand the scope of the exemption for certain performances of music in food service, drinking and retail establishments by means of radio and television transmissions, became effective on January 26, 1999.(Public Law No. 105-298, which amended 17 U.S.C. 110(5).)
The amendment law applies only to performances by means of radio-over-speakers or televisions, only if no direct charge is made to see or hear the performances, only if the performances are not further transmitted beyond the establishment where they are received, and only if the original transmission is licensed by the copyright owners -- that is, the radio or television station, cable system or satellite carrier is licensed by the copyright owners or their performing rights organizations.
The scope of the exemption in the old law had been unclear, and led to much litigation. The new law contains objective standards which will enable both music users and copyright owners to determine whether particular radio-over-speaker and television performances are exempt from copyright liability. Two types of music users are exempt, under different standards: a food service or drinking establishment (defined as "a restaurant, inn, bar, tavern, or any other similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink, in which the majority of the gross square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose, and in which non-dramatic musical works are performed publicly") and a other establishment (defined as "a store, shop, or any similar place of business open to the general public for the primary purpose of selling goods or services in which the majority of the gross square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose, and in which non-dramatic musical works are performed publicly").
A food service or drinking establishment is eligible for the exemption if it (1) has less than 3750 gross square feet of space (in measuring the space, the amount of space used for customer parking only is always excludable); or (2) has 3750 gross square feet of space or more and (a) uses no more than 6 loudspeakers of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space; and (b) if television sets are used, there are no more than 4 televisions, of which not more than 1 is located in any 1 room and none has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches.
The other establishment is eligible for the exemption if it (1) has less than 2000 gross square feet of space; or (2) has 2000 or more gross square feet of space and satisfies the same loudspeaker and television set requirements as for food service or drinking establishments.
The new law should greatly reduce disputes as to whether particular radio-over-speaker and television performances are entitled to the exemption. And, of course, the law continues to require that public performances of copyrighted music by other means such as live music, records, cassette tapes, CD’s background music services, video tapes or laser discs require permission obtained either from the copyright owners or from their performing rights licensing organizations.