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Author Topic: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline  (Read 13939 times)

Kevin "DJ Wave" Boreing

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American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« on: March 17, 2011, 06:44:24 am »

If you are an American DJ, pay close attention to the latest White Paper released by the white house regarding a request to clarify the laws on streaming music and making it a felony. According to the wording of the paper, anyone that is a DJ in the U.S. that isn't currently paying full performance royalties would be subject to a felony conviction.

As of now it's considered a performance and not distribution when streaming music without paying full royalties, and as far as I am aware there have been no real prosecutions for this. If the law is clarified to say playing the music becomes distribution instead of performance, it becomes a felony akin to the FBI warning on movies.

Something to keep an eye on for sure, as the increasing performance royalty fee's coupled with a possible felony conviction would drive most of us out of the market place and have a dramatic increase in costs for clients to hire a DJ.

Stay cool out there!

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ip_white_paper.pdf
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Daniel Maki

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 05:48:31 pm »

isn't this just about internet streaming?

Chris Carpenter

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2011, 06:20:16 pm »

isn't this just about internet streaming?

Perhaps relevant to internet DJs? Although if that were the case it has little relevance for a sound reinforcement forum.
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Brad Parsons

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2011, 09:24:09 pm »

If you are an American DJ, pay close attention to the latest White Paper released by the white house regarding a request to clarify the laws on streaming music and making it a felony. According to the wording of the paper, anyone that is a DJ in the U.S. that isn't currently paying full performance royalties would be subject to a felony conviction.

As of now it's considered a performance and not distribution when streaming music without paying full royalties, and as far as I am aware there have been no real prosecutions for this. If the law is clarified to say playing the music becomes distribution instead of performance, it becomes a felony akin to the FBI warning on movies.

Something to keep an eye on for sure, as the increasing performance royalty fee's coupled with a possible felony conviction would drive most of us out of the market place and have a dramatic increase in costs for clients to hire a DJ.

Stay cool out there!

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ip_white_paper.pdf

It depends on what the DJ is playing. Those royalty schemes are only applicable if playing POP music. If it's underground music or lesser known music, it doesn't apply. There's other ways around it, like not playing music that falls under these silly rules. It would be impossible for them to set up an office to monitor DJs around the world and have a staff of kids to identify every single song played.

The day they attempt to disallow DJs to play the music they bought, is the day the whole royalty scheme system will collapse.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2011, 01:26:24 am »

It depends on what the DJ is playing. Those royalty schemes are only applicable if playing POP music. If it's underground music or lesser known music, it doesn't apply. There's other ways around it, like not playing music that falls under these silly rules. It would be impossible for them to set up an office to monitor DJs around the world and have a staff of kids to identify every single song played.

The day they attempt to disallow DJs to play the music they bought, is the day the whole royalty scheme system will collapse.

Uh... no.  Copyright exists from the moment a "work" is created.  The creation can be sheet music or embodied within a sound recording.  It is up to the creator to register the work with US Trademark & Copyright Office.  Registration is important for the creator so as to assert their rights regarding publication, distribution, public performance and "synchronization" (used in a predominantly visual medium, like TV (even in a commercial) or in a movie soundtrack).

The tussle regarding the difference between broadcast radio and streaming radio is far from over.  The broadcasters have traditionally gotten a much better deal on royalty payments for over-the-air use than streaming was getting.  It was particularly a problem for radio stations (some of them public radio) that streamed their broadcasts.

The "chicken little" approach the OP is taking isn't about stifling anyone's creative freedom, it's about making sure that the creators (and/or their publishers and royalty agencies) are compensated for the use of the creator's copyrighted works.  At question is how much should be paid & under what circumstances, and the penalties for violations of the resulting statutes.

Also note that the OP isn't clear about performance royalties.  In the USA, the royalties for public performance of copyright music is subject to a 'compulsory license' that is the responsibility of the VENUE to pay for.  This does not prevent the venue from adding a pro-rated fee to the tenant that uses the venue, but legally it's up to the venue management to pay for the license.  Streaming audio is considered distribution because it is not being done for the benefit of a proximate (in person) audience.

Buying music does not give you a right to publicly perform that music without the compulsory license.

The sky is not falling, return to the coop.
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Randy Pence

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 02:05:52 pm »

It depends on what the DJ is playing. Those royalty schemes are only applicable if playing POP music. If it's underground music or lesser known music, it doesn't apply. There's other ways around it, like not playing music that falls under these silly rules. It would be impossible for them to set up an office to monitor DJs around the world and have a staff of kids to identify every single song played.

The day they attempt to disallow DJs to play the music they bought, is the day the whole royalty scheme system will collapse.

software like shazam is verrrrrrrrry good at identifying what are still considered to be underground dance music songs.
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Brad Weber

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2011, 02:45:52 pm »

Also note that the OP isn't clear about performance royalties.  In the USA, the royalties for public performance of copyright music is subject to a 'compulsory license' that is the responsibility of the VENUE to pay for.  This does not prevent the venue from adding a pro-rated fee to the tenant that uses the venue, but legally it's up to the venue management to pay for the license.
According to my discussions with some of the licensing agencies and experts in copyright law, the way I understand it is that anyone who benefits is potentially liable regarding performance rights, the rightsholders and licensing agencies usually choose to go after the venue because a) the venue typically determines if it was a public performance, b) the venue almost always benefits from the performance and c) dealing with just the venues is easier and more likely to get some action.  Thus it has become accepted practice for the venues to handle the performance licensing, however that does not relieve all parties involved from potential responsibility or necessarily prevent the venue from contractually assigning responsibility to other parties.  And you may not be able to assume that for block parties, etc. someone else has addressed licensing.
 
Weddings and receptions can also be an issue as while there is a church related exclusion in US copyright laws, that exclusion is tied specifically to music performed as part of a religious service.  You might have an argument that music played during a wedding would beexcluded from requiring rights but music at a reception would pretty clearly not be part of a religious service regardless of where the reception takes place.  Many churches do not understand this and assume all events on their property are excluded or else get licensing only for a limited catalog.
 
This also only addresses Performance Rights and not duplication or other aspects for which copyright can also be relevant.  For example, numerous DJ companies have been hit with large fines for copying music files or drives in order to support multiple DJs within the company.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2011, 11:32:35 am »

According to my discussions with some of the licensing agencies and experts in copyright law, the way I understand it is that anyone who benefits is potentially liable regarding performance rights, the rightsholders and licensing agencies usually choose to go after the venue because a) the venue typically determines if it was a public performance, b) the venue almost always benefits from the performance and c) dealing with just the venues is easier and more likely to get some action.  Thus it has become accepted practice for the venues to handle the performance licensing, however that does not relieve all parties involved from potential responsibility or necessarily prevent the venue from contractually assigning responsibility to other parties.  And you may not be able to assume that for block parties, etc. someone else has addressed licensing.
 
Weddings and receptions can also be an issue as while there is a church related exclusion in US copyright laws, that exclusion is tied specifically to music performed as part of a religious service.  You might have an argument that music played during a wedding would beexcluded from requiring rights but music at a reception would pretty clearly not be part of a religious service regardless of where the reception takes place.  Many churches do not understand this and assume all events on their property are excluded or else get licensing only for a limited catalog.
 
This also only addresses Performance Rights and not duplication or other aspects for which copyright can also be relevant.  For example, numerous DJ companies have been hit with large fines for copying music files or drives in order to support multiple DJs within the company.

Hi Brad-

Thanks for adding to this.

The reason the licensing agencies have gone after the venues first is because a lien can be attached to the business and because unlike DJ Joe, the business (venue) isn't likely to be going anywhere.  Tracking down Joe the DJ and fining him probably will result in zero collections, but that doesn't mean he's free of responsibility.

The licensing agencies have taken the same view that product liability cases have:  in the suit or criminal charges, name everyone who made a dime in any way from the alleged violation and let the judge sort it out.

Your comment about the use of music in houses of worship, outside their direct ministry, is spot on.  It happens to public and private schools, too, that rent facilities to the Boy Scouts, PTA "movie nights", etc.  Our school board just purchased a blanket license for motion pictures/video that covers all school board facilities to avoid licensing hassles from non-instructional use of copyrighted movies & video.

Have fun, good luck.

Tim Mc
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Brad Weber

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2011, 09:55:36 am »

Good point Tim, the educational exemption for copyright is also very often misunderstood and much like the religious exemption in that it is related to the use and not the venue.  Copyright law is also fairly restrictive in what may be considered an educational application, e.g. it must involve face-to-face teaching, be directly relevant to an established curriculum, etc.
 
The bottom line is that you seem to have three basic approaches in relation to copyright law; operate in ignorance of the relevant laws (which is not a legal defense should it ever be relevant), operate knowing you are violating the laws and accepting the associated risks or educating yourself and making all efforts to comply with the law.  Which approach you decide to employ is a personal choice, but only one seems to represent a 'professional' approach.
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John Strzalkowski

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2011, 12:59:09 pm »

The KIAA is going after 'DJs' who play karaoke music in bars for profit. In Chicago I know a few business that got hit with a notice that they must show that they purchased all music on their hard drives. They actually ARE going after the small DJ Joe's in the world who buy 150,000+ songs off some guy on craigslist for $150 and then starts a business out of it...Luckily the businesses I know have legitamately bought these songs, and they just had a huge meeting with them showing all he music belongs to her. I don't know much else other than it's a pain in the ass for those who buy their music, and an even bigger pain in the ass for those that don't.

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Kevin "DJ Wave" Boreing

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2011, 11:02:35 am »

My greatest concern in this matter would be to those who not only have not fully purchased every single song they play (which even then does not amount to having the right to play them for profit in a public performance,) but also those who use stream based services and pay for them to complement their selection of music. When you could have 100k songs on a disk drive or 7 million connected through an online stream, the smart thing to do as a DJ is to have both available for the widest collection available.

The problem here is that, in the first place, public performance of copyrighted material without correct licensing the way radio stations do it is technically a No No. This new clarification is also stating that doing this with streaming audio would be added to the list of No No's, since it's a new subject to have the music not reside locally and therefor not be technically able to say a person is possessing copyrighted material and using it for profit, since it's all based on a server that holds licenses to it.

Bottom line, it won't really matter unless enforcement is done against people who use this material at performances, but it's a good thing to keep an eye on as it could happen at anytime if the RIAA decides they need some more cash flow and suing illegal downloaders isn't working well enough for them.

I'm also not sure how the venue needing a license would come into play if the venue would be say an outdoor park or public building. As a DJ, would you really be expected to pay royalties on every song played or tel your clients they must do so or you won't perform at their function?
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 11:04:14 am by Kevin "DJ Wave" Boreing »
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Brad Weber

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2011, 06:14:36 pm »

I'm also not sure how the venue needing a license would come into play if the venue would be say an outdoor park or public building. As a DJ, would you really be expected to pay royalties on every song played or tel your clients they must do so or you won't perform at their function?
Perhaps not, but since the anyone involved in or who benefits from a performance could be held responsible for any related copyright infringement and since the venue is the party most likely to be pursued in such action, is there some associated professional responsibility to inform a Client or venue that public performance rights need to be addressed?  And could you be adding to your potential risk if those other parties can show that you knew about, or reasonably should have known about, these issues and did not share that information?  It seems in everyone's best interest to clearly state in Contracts or Agreements that performance rights are required and that the venue is responsible for obtaining them.  Whether they procure those rights or not is then up to them, but that way you have provided some due diligence in informing them of the need for such rights and stated in writing that you that you have the understanding that they are agreeing to address performance rights.
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Bob Leonard

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2011, 02:24:04 am »

I'm also not sure how the venue needing a license would come into play if the venue would be say an outdoor park or public building. As a DJ, would you really be expected to pay royalties on every song played or tel your clients they must do so or you won't perform at their function?
Perhaps not, but since the anyone involved in or who benefits from a performance could be held responsible for any related copyright infringement and since the venue is the party most likely to be pursued in such action, is there some associated professional responsibility to inform a Client or venue that public performance rights need to be addressed?  And could you be adding to your potential risk if those other parties can show that you knew about, or reasonably should have known about, these issues and did not share that information?  It seems in everyone's best interest to clearly state in Contracts or Agreements that performance rights are required and that the venue is responsible for obtaining them.  Whether they procure those rights or not is then up to them, but that way you have provided some due diligence in informing them of the need for such rights and stated in writing that you that you have the understanding that they are agreeing to address performance rights.

Words of wisdom Brad, and thanks to you and Tim for covering the subject. In my case where I suppliment my backline with MIDI files for the horn sections, etc. I found out early on, maybe 15 years ago, that it was to my benefit to purchase the raw files from reputable companies who in efect created well made files, but also hold the license for their use. One such company is MIDI hits. Purchasing the file allows licensed use of the file during a performance.
 
I was challanged on this once by the music police and the point was proven. I was not in violation or was the venue as my purchase covered the copyright laws. To this day my promo material includes an brief statement explaining this and the result has been additional work, good relationships with the venues, and a nod of approval from the music police. These guys are out there looking and I suggest that it's only a matter of time before you take a hit if you aren't working legally. As a performer and as a sound provider I beleive in being paid for my work, and I beleive that others should be paid for theirs.
 
See the link below;
 
http://www.midi-hits.com/licensing.html
 
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Greg_Cameron

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2011, 01:25:47 pm »

It just occurred to me that as a sound person, you could get dinged playing "walk in" music or music between bands. Hmm.

Greg
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Randall Hyde

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2011, 06:29:14 pm »

If you are an American DJ, ...

Gee, I thought this was a thread about American DJ suing Walmart, et. al.
:)
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frank kayser

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2011, 03:05:42 pm »

It just occurred to me that as a sound person, you could get dinged playing "walk in" music or music between bands. Hmm.

Greg

Yes and no.
By royalties companies: no.
By the venue: Yes.

According to the folks at BMI who were kind enough to answer my questions, the venue alone is responsible - for what I may play as walk in, whether a performer plays a cover, or a DJ at the event. 

I ran an open mic at a coffee bar, and it was explicitly stated by the owner that his license was sans copyrighted music of others.  BMI stated that I, as a sound provider, could not legally play walk in music, or even music to get a read on how the room sounded, but if I did, the venue was on the hook.  Now that would not prevent the venue from coming after me for damages for knowingly putting them at risk. 

Further, BMI responded to my question of obtaining a license myself, or a extremely limited license as a sound provider to use certain pieces of music to align the sound. Their reply was such licensing was not available - back to the strict requirement of the venue.  My only options really were to play my own music, or to play something in the public domain.

As said (more eloquently by folks above) - either go into it in ignorance, with malice of forethought, or do the right thing.  If for no other reason, be very afraid of the possible penalties.  Also said above, pay the creators.  Any way you slice it, we are benefitting from their inspiration, toil and sweat - even if to align a sound rig.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 03:11:55 pm by frank kayser »
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Brad Weber

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2011, 08:06:31 am »

It just occurred to me that as a sound person, you could get dinged playing "walk in" music or music between bands. Hmm.

Greg

Yes and no.
By royalties companies: no.
By the venue: Yes.

According to the folks at BMI who were kind enough to answer my questions, the venue alone is responsible - for what I may play as walk in, whether a performer plays a cover, or a DJ at the event. 

I ran an open mic at a coffee bar, and it was explicitly stated by the owner that his license was sans copyrighted music of others.  BMI stated that I, as a sound provider, could not legally play walk in music, or even music to get a read on how the room sounded, but if I did, the venue was on the hook.  Now that would not prevent the venue from coming after me for damages for knowingly putting them at risk. 

Further, BMI responded to my question of obtaining a license myself, or a extremely limited license as a sound provider to use certain pieces of music to align the sound. Their reply was such licensing was not available - back to the strict requirement of the venue.  My only options really were to play my own music, or to play something in the public domain
When I asked SESAC about this general topic the reply I got was that in the context of performance rights that technically anyone involved with the performance can be held liable, which is how the Federal copyright law seems to read.  An attorney I spoke with agreed, however he did note that even if they are not the infringer the venue risks some potential liability for 'authorizing, permitting or facilitating' any infringement that occurs on their premises, the simple argument there probably being that it is the venue that facilitates it being a public performance.  So what it seems to come down to is that while the venues are not the only party with potential liability or responsibility related to performance rights, the royalty companies apparently prefer to deal with the venues and the venues could assume some liability for any infringement that occurs so the practice of the venue being responsible for obtaining rights has become common.
 
You make a good point that if you are charging for services and it is reasonable for someone in the profession to be aware of the associated rights issues then while you may not have to obtain the rights there may be liability to avoid causing an infringement.  It sort of goes back to the first point and the responsibility for obtaining the rights seems a related but separate issue from the potential liability for any infringement. 
I also have to wonder if the answer you received about getting a limited license may have been driven more by BMI not wanting to deal with licensing partial catalogs to individuals.  There are definitely legal aspects to this to performance rights, but there are also business aspects and the comments made may reflect their business practices as well as interpretations of copyright law.
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Dave Dermont

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2011, 11:15:36 pm »

I am involved with an internet radio station that pays a fee to a streaming service that includes a performance rights license.

The fees are tiered by the maximum number of listeners. The minimum fee allows up to 150 listeners, and that's the maximum number allowed to stream the station at one time.

That's what I think of when I think of "streaming".

If a DJ is streaming copyrighted music during a performance, The venue's performance rights license should cover the performance.

Since no copy of the copyrighted material is living on the DJ's computer drive, I would imagine that no mechanical royalty would need to be paid. In this case, the difference between "distribution" and "performance" is pretty clear cut.

I have never considered the use of streaming music for a performance or the legal ramifications it presents. It's an interesting topic which I am sure will be sorted out.

These are not "silly rules". This is how composers, authors, and publishers get paid for the use of copyrighted material they own the rights to.

I am not an attorney, and this is not meant to be legal advice. These are simply interpretations based on my limited knowledge of copyright law.

There is a good chance I don't know what the hell I am talking about.

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Stu McDoniel

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2011, 09:29:32 am »

If you are an American DJ, pay close attention to the latest White Paper released by the white house regarding a request to clarify the laws on streaming music and making it a felony. According to the wording of the paper, anyone that is a DJ in the U.S. that isn't currently paying full performance royalties would be subject to a felony conviction.

As of now it's considered a performance and not distribution when streaming music without paying full royalties, and as far as I am aware there have been no real prosecutions for this. If the law is clarified to say playing the music becomes distribution instead of performance, it becomes a felony akin to the FBI warning on movies.

Something to keep an eye on for sure, as the increasing performance royalty fee's coupled with a possible felony conviction would drive most of us out of the market place and have a dramatic increase in costs for clients to hire a DJ.

Stay cool out there!

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ip_white_paper.pdf
Most clubs and venues that provide bands, juke boxes, Dj's and all the like have been visited by BMI
and ASCAP personel and already pay a moneys to them.   This is how they collect their royalties for record companies.   As an example.   There was a club in town here that ran national Blues acts which I did all the sound for and also local bands from the state.  I was in the club one afternoon when two guys came into the club with
briefcases.  These two guys counted the amount of chairs in the seating space and looked over the jukebox.
They then talked to the club owner and came up with a yearly fee he has to pay ASCAP/BMI based on
the above.    Not only does the clubowner have to pay this money for the live bands and DJ music he also has
to pay for the profits he collects on a jukebox as well. 
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Rory Buszka

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2011, 10:47:54 pm »

Quote
These are not "silly rules". This is how composers, authors, and publishers get paid for the use of copyrighted material they own the rights to.

There, I fixed it for you.

It's well known that music publishers will attempt to collect royalties on music even if it has entered the public domain or even if the composer's or artist's contract with them for distribution has expired. For a lot of music that's considered 'classic rock' today, the expiry of these contracts is within view, though the record companies are expected in many cases to sue in court for perpetual rights, arguing that they provided the means of content production and the artist was simply providing their performance for pay. What the artists do receive from the record label for their album sales is a pittance; I've read that they make substantially more money from touring, which may be why so many old rockers will come out of retirement or back from their 'vacation' to go on a new tour.

They (record companies) are unscrupulous, but it's "just business". It doesn't mean we need to say they do business in an honorable way. We only need to be afraid of them and pay them whatever they ask for a product we can't get anywhere else, because they've been gaming the legal system for so long to create a copyright law system that is exclusively favorable to them. This is the reality of the new corporatism and there is very little anybody without money and armies of lobbyists and lawyers can do about it.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2011, 10:52:54 pm by Rory Buszka »
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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2011, 02:32:02 pm »

Sounds like extortion to me, old school protection racket.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2011, 08:27:19 pm »

Sounds like extortion to me, old school protection racket.

Yes, copyright laws are a form of protection... protection against uncompensated commercial exploitation of someones creative work.  You might want to go back and read again my posts and those of Brad Weber.
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Brad Weber

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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2011, 08:59:17 am »

Sounds like extortion to me, old school protection racket.
The fact that it is being discussed and gets such a reaction supports that the use of the music or other media represents some value to people.  You can argue the aspects of whether that compensation goes to the people it should or the details of the related laws but I always wonder about those that seem against the basic concept that someone that creates something of value should be compensated by those who use it and especially those who profit from its use.
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Re: American DJ's, pay close attention to laws in the pipeline
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2011, 08:59:17 am »


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