Avast, Ye Owners: Don’t be a Music Pirate

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Legal, Multifamily by on March 13, 2018 1 Comment

piratesDoes your leasing or sales center ever have music playing in the common areas? Is there music playing over a speaker system at the pool, the community room, the fitness center or the coffee bar?

If you don’t have the rights to play this music, you may be fined for piracy.

This issue found its way to NAHB’s legal team when a Multifamily Council member was contacted by a company that asserted the member’s community was violating copyright law by using music without permission by the owner – that is, the musician – and then insisted that the member buy a license to be able to do that legally. The member wasn’t sure if the letter was legitimate, so he asked NAHB’s lawyers to look into it.

After much research, the member now has an answer.

Most music is protected by copyright law, and the use of a song or recording without the owner’s permission could be considered copyright infringement. One of the copyright holder’s rights is to prohibit others from “publicly performing” their song. That includes playing them – or allowing others to play them on CDs, mp3 players, computers and other devices – in a public setting.

Of course, performers aren’t going to go to every single venue where their song might be performed publicly to demand royalties. They hire someone to do that. These independent performers’ rights organizations (PROs) look for venues where music might be expected to be played publicly, and check them out.

If they find that music by one of the performers they represent is being played without a license, they send a letter to the person in charge to demand that the venue purchase a public performance license. Not responding to such a letter promptly is likely to result in further enforcement action by the PRO.

There are three major PROs, each covering a different group of performers. A license allows a venue to play music by one of the groups of artists. Many venues buy all three licenses, to be on the safe side.

Another approach is to pay for a subscription-based service that has all the appropriate licenses.

Download the full report. For additional information, contact staff council Devala Janardan. And learn more about the NAHB Multifamily Council.

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  1. Fred Corbett says:

    If performers can demand that someone pay for their music everytime it is played, why can’t a Tradesman (electrician, for example) demand they get paid everytime someone flips a switch that they wired? When I buy a CD, I paid for that CD. When I wire a switch and perform wiring in a performer’s house, the performer owning the property pays me for my work – one time. Why must I pay a performer every time I play their music at a gathering of people? I paid for their music, just like the performer paid me to wire their house. When the performer flips that switch for a gathering of people in their home, they all enjoy the light.

    The performer used their talents to produce the CD. I used my talents (and strict licensing) to wire the house (and switch). Perhaps Tradesmen should charge for their talents over and over again (every time the switch is flipped, every time the toilet is flushed, every time the A/C comes on, etc., etc.). This is crazy.

    The entertainment industry has gotten out of hand, and has no sense of decency.

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