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Has anyone had any problem with ASCAP or BMI? In order to legally use most any song for a public performance (and using them in a light show via an FM transmitter IS a public performance), a license from ASCAP, BMI, or other licensing organizations is required. The original performers don't have to come after you, the publisher of the music can do it, and if you don't have proper licensing, you can be fined. I don't know what those licenses cost, and on the BMI and ASCAP websites I can't find a fee amount. As popular as light shows are becoming, I can forsee this as a potential problem for some.

Just a head's up...

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Well, I know of local businesses that have been fined for piping music into their stores without a license to do so. There are local reps in eachpart of the country that monitor their area.

Here's a copy from the FAQs on the ASCAP website:

A public performance is one that occurs either in a public place or any place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or its social acquaintances.) A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public; for example, radio or television broadcasts, music-on-hold, cable television, and by the internet. Generally, those who publicly perform music obtain permission from the owner of the music or his representative.

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Well....

I think most people here don't transmit for the public!

Most of us just use a low power setup so we can hear it on our radio while we take a shower!

You mean someone is evesdropping on the music from our christmas mix while we are in the shower?????

Shame on them!!!

What do you mean the lights blink to the music?

~Wink!~

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terrypowerz wrote:

Well....

I think most people here don't transmit for the public!

Most of us just use a low power setup so we can hear it on our radio while we take a shower!

You mean someone is evesdropping on the music from our christmas mix while we are in the shower?????

Shame on them!!!

What do you mean the lights blink to the music?

~Wink!~

lol,that may be true but why do we all have signs to tell people to tune in.

ssorrell, I was actually wondering the exact same thing. I read on here somewhere about people having to change there songs because they going to be shown on tv and that would be illegal for there songs to be going. So I am not to sure where you would find non licenced music. But this is diffently a topic we all should know about.

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Several people have checked with ASCAP and BMI and were told that for a private, low-power setup like we do, you don't need a license.

It's really no different than people putting speakers in their yard, which people have done for years.

-Tim

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Maybe it's interpreted differently with each field rep, but I'm not sure that light shows to music would be officially exempt from having to have a license.

If a small business with 2 speakers on their sales floor had to buy a license to play music, I'm sure a house with an FM transmitter could fall under the ASCAP or BMI laws...after all, you are indeed transimitting it for the sole purpose of the public hearing the music.

Can you give me any references or can anyone that has actually talked to ASCAP or BMI chime in? I'd like to know for certain before I start to transmit.

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It could be that this type of "show" would be defined as needing a syncronization license, which is not offered from ASCAP or BMI, but rather directly from the publisher of the music. Since they don't have any reps in the field to investigate such usage (I assume), I think we are safe.

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ssorrell wrote:

Maybe it's interpreted differently with each field rep, but I'm not sure that light shows to music would be officially exempt from having to have a license.

If a small business with 2 speakers on their sales floor had to buy a license to play music, I'm sure a house with an FM transmitter could fall under the ASCAP or BMI laws...after all, you are indeed transimitting it for the sole purpose of the public hearing the music.

Can you give me any references or can anyone that has actually talked to ASCAP or BMI chime in? I'd like to know for certain before I start to transmit.

The biggest difference, I think, is that the business is making money and we are not. :P

Think of it like Disney enforcing their copyrights on characters. They don't mind if you paint a picture of Mickey on your kid's wall, or even if we make cutouts in our displays. But they actually sued a day-care for painting Mickey on their walls. The difference? A day-care is a business.

As for a reference, see: http://www.palmgarden.org/christmas_future.htmunder the 'Music' section.

ETA: Carson's display was another good test-case. It was obviously very high profile this year. Also, he distributed a video with the an entire TSO song in it. Not only did TSO not mind (they got tons of publicity) but his family was given VIP treatment at their concert.

-Tim

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ssorrell wrote:

Maybe it's interpreted differently with each field rep, but I'm not sure that light shows to music would be officially exempt from having to have a license.

If a small business with 2 speakers on their sales floor had to buy a license to play music, I'm sure a house with an FM transmitter could fall under the ASCAP or BMI laws...after all, you are indeed transimitting it for the sole purpose of the public hearing the music.

Can you give me any references or can anyone that has actually talked to ASCAP or BMI chime in? I'd like to know for certain before I start to transmit.

I would be more concerned with wondering if my transmitter would ACTUALLY pass FCC Part 15 measurements if someone complained....

They (FCC) scare me more than ASCAP or BMI!!!

It has been discussed to great lengths before... bottom line (as Tim pointed out) as long as you are not making a profit OR your display is being rebroadcast (on TV) you are not going to have any problems.

It was even mentioned that since alot of people shorten the songs length, thereby not actually using the "original" full version of a song also negates the issue even further!

Don't accept profits, be a good neighbor and don't offend anyone, and you should not have any problems with your music.

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My 2¢:

Disclaimer:

I do not work for the FCC, nor ASCAP, nor BMI, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last nite

As far as home based business, are you using the broadcast to promote your business? If so, that might cross the line. If it just so happens that you run a business out of your home, but your transmission doesn't plug that business in anyway - ie only playing tunes that your lights dance to, I would think you'd be ok

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Well here is where I may have crossed the line. For one my bussiness laptop is being used to broadcast. But that is an easy fix. The thing that they could say somthing about is the fact that 30% of my electrical bill is written off as a bussiness expense. Well we all know that during the month of December my bussiness is not using 30%.

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itsmejrv wrote:

Well here is where I may have crossed the line. For one my bussiness laptop is being used to broadcast. But that is an easy fix. The thing that they could say somthing about is the fact that 30% of my electrical bill is written off as a bussiness expense. Well we all know that during the month of December my bussiness is not using 30%.

I think the real question is, are YOU doing a display, or is your business?

I think displays that have a major sponsor could have issues e.g. "Welcome to Wonderful Kewl Christmas, sponsored by Bobo's hardware! Go to Bobo's Hardware for all your decorating needs this season -- this week's special, 200 mini lights for $15!"

There have been a lot of computerized displays getting high profile treatment the past 5 years or so. To my knowledge, nobody has every been aproached by the RIAA or someone else. If there were issues, I'm pretty sure you'd get a "cease and desist" long before getting an actual fine.

If you want to be totally safe, have a few rights-free songs in your mix. If you ever get a C&D order, you can always fall back on those. We have at least 3 songs that I have permission from the artists to use.

-Tim

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