Local Establishments Face Dilemma as Copyright Enforcement Increases and Jazz Night, Karaoke & Cover Bands Become a Thing of the Past

July 13th, 2015 by JBWK

Submitted by Britney H. Maddux

Music rights organizations have ownership rights in most of the music and songs customarily played in local restaurants, bars, and parks. These organizations have been entitled to demand royalty fees from establishments playing the music or songs they own for many years but have just recently started cracking down in an effort to enforce their rights under United States copyright laws.

These ownership rights apply to music streamed from a machine sold to the business by an organization as well as live music played by any individual or band. Most businesses enter into contracts to cover the streaming of music however, not many take the time to investigate the ownership rights and laws on live music and cover bands. Music rights organizations recently made it clear that neither ignorance nor passive indifference to these laws would be tolerated any longer.

In fact, one music rights organization, Broadcast Music, Inc., filed suit against a Staunton, Virginia restaurant in December of 2014 for just those types of alleged violations. The penalties for engaging in acts of copyright infringement can be quite severe however, obtaining the right to allow individuals or bands to play live music owned by these music rights organizations can be very costly, particularly for smaller local businesses.

Karaoke and jazz nights, cover bands, and other sorts of live music entertainment without payment to a music rights organization generally runs afoul of United States copyright laws. The cost of obtaining the right to have these songs played in an establishment is not usually worth the amount of money brought into the establishment by the live music event.

Unless these music rights organizations decrease the value assigned to these rights, karaoke, jazz nights, and cover bands may slowly become a thing of the past. Nevertheless, as enforcement practices increase, local business owners would be wise to become more familiar with the laws and potential exposure to liability.

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