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Author Topic: So when do I owe royalties?
GreyGhost from MS
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For the purposes of this hypothetical, let's assume I can sing. (I really, really can't. Not even close).

Say I'm driving down the road, Freebird comes on the radio, and I sing along. No royalty due from me--though Skynyrd gets paid because their song was on the radio.

I go home, and start messing around with my guitar. Musical felonies aside, I attempt to pick out Freebird--but hey, I'm at home, and playing accoustic, so not even my neighbors hear it. No royalty invovled there.

I go out to a karaoke night at a local bar. Again with the Freebird. Granted, I'd likely be killed by the audience in righteous fury, but would my estate be liable for a royalty payment?

Some fool actually hires me to gig somewhere--probably for people he doesn't like--but I'm paid to do a set, and I perform covers of several tunes, likely including Bobby McGee, Carwash Blues, and closing with Freebird. The audience goes all peasants with torches and pitchforks on me (and rightfully so--did I mention I'm really bad at music?), but no recordings are made. Does my next of kin have to deal with a claim for royalties?

I know if I record a cover of someone else's song, I either have to obtain a license, or pay royalties ...but beyond that, I'm kinda fuzzy.

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MoneyDragon
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The minute you profit from a song roualties are do. If your paid and they want to push it, they are do.

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Crimson Mask I
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No, that's not exactly correct.

quote:
Originally posted by GreyGhost:
For the purposes of this hypothetical, let's assume I can sing. (I really, really can't. Not even close).

Say I'm driving down the road, Freebird comes on the radio, and I sing along. No royalty due from me--though Skynyrd gets paid because their song was on the radio.

I go home, and start messing around with my guitar. Musical felonies aside, I attempt to pick out Freebird--but hey, I'm at home, and playing accoustic, so not even my neighbors hear it. No royalty invovled there.

I go out to a karaoke night at a local bar. Again with the Freebird. Granted, I'd likely be killed by the audience in righteous fury, but would my estate be liable for a royalty payment?


Nope. SHOULD be covered by the joint's ASCAP or BMI license.

Some fool actually hires me to gig somewhere--probably for people he doesn't like--but I'm paid to do a set, and I perform covers of several tunes, likely including Bobby McGee, Carwash Blues, and closing with Freebird. The audience goes all peasants with torches and pitchforks on me (and rightfully so--did I mention I'm really bad at music?), but no recordings are made. Does my next of kin have to deal with a claim for royalties?

Nope. Again, should be covered by the venue's license. If it's a house party or something like that, you slip through the cracks.

I know if I record a cover of someone else's song, I either have to obtain a license, or pay royalties

Both actually. You're supposed to obtain the license and pay the compulsory license fee before making the record. That way, the composer, or whoever the copyright holder is, isn't dependent on the success, or lack thereof, of your cover, in order to be initially compensated for the use of his work. It's based on a flat rate X the number of copies being 'pressed', so the bigger hit you have, the more copies get pressed, the more they make. So you may not profit from it at all, and obviously won't have at this point in the process, but at this point you, or whoever's producing the record, have to cough up.

...but beyond that, I'm kinda fuzzy.

Well, hope this helped.

So long from the Sunshine State!

[ 05-24-2006, 07:03 PM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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GreyGhost from MS
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Mask sez:

quote:
Nope. SHOULD be covered by the joint's ASCAP or BMI license.

How common is such a license? I'm talking about your basic local beer joint here, that maybe brings in a local band on the weekends....

And what terms would be included in such a license?

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Misterrasslin05
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I'm not sure how common it is but a friend of mine had a part time job for a while checking up on bars for ascap. Least that's what he told me, I'm pretty sure "checking up" involved more than a few beers.
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Crimson Mask I
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyGhost:
Mask sez:

quote:
Nope. SHOULD be covered by the joint's ASCAP or BMI license.

How common is such a license? I'm talking about your basic local beer joint here, that maybe brings in a local band on the weekends....

And what terms would be included in such a license?


It's the rule. You got any kinda venue uses live or recorded music on a regular basis, you will have a license. Generally it's a blanket type thing allowing you use of the entire catalogue for the term of the license. And as the other guy alluded to, the licensing associations are aggressive about monitoring and enforcement.



[ 05-24-2006, 07:34 PM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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Wanderlust Diaz from SIU
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so... because im interested to.

my friend plays guitar at a local bar on weekends, and he does coves. let's say he sings "amerrican pie", you're saying that the bar hs paid a fee for that?

rick

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Crimson Mask I
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Yup. If they haven't, sooner or later somebody like the guy's friend from the previous post is gonna drop by, make his report, and the bar owner gonna have some splainin' to do.
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wingedf33t
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And here I was thinking Ghost was a lawler or something...
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GreyGhost from MS
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quote:
Originally posted by wingedf33t:
And here I was thinking Ghost was a lawler or something...

Afraid I'm not a Jerry good Lawler.
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Wanderlust Diaz from SIU
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Yup. If they haven't, sooner or later somebody like the guy's friend from the previous post is gonna drop by, make his report, and the bar owner gonna have some splainin' to do.

even if there's no cover?

so, in theory, he should be clearing the playlist?

rick

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Crimson Mask I
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Cover, no cover, bar, restaurant, hotel lobby with a string quartet, doesn't matter (well, unless the stuff the string quartet is playing is in the Public Domain, but you get what I'm saying). If somebody's song is getting played, the venue is using it, and yes, that has to be licensed and paid for. And yes, that's the venue's piece, not the performer's.

Don't get the question about 'clearing the playlist'.

[ 05-24-2006, 10:33 PM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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Ranger63
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Cover, no cover, bar, restaurant, hotel lobby with a string quartet, doesn't matter (well, unless the stuff the string quartet is playing is in the Public Domain, but you get what I'm saying). If somebody's song is getting played, the venue is using it, and yes, that has to be licensed and paid for. And yes, that's the venue's piece, not the performer's.

Don't get the question about 'clearing the playlist'.

Wow, I had no idea this is whats supposed to happen. I wonder how many Bars/Clubs ACTUALLY pay up?

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Crimson Mask I
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Like I said, ASCAP and BMI (and the third one I can never remember) are VERY aggressive about this. They employ people, like was said, to go around undercover as it were and report back on what places are using music, and even to note down logs of what songs are played (that's over and above the regular monitoring through normal channels, reports, data, so on, I mean it's an example of how exhaustive their effort is). And they've been doing this for a LONG time. They're good at it. So I think compliance is higher than you might suspect.

Remember also this is for RECORDED music as well, which is actually the bigger piece (and at least somewhat easier to monitor). If you have a DJ, use recorded background music whether generated there or via subscription (Muzak, etc.), whatever, you're in this.

[ 05-24-2006, 11:28 PM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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Crimson Mask I
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Also, with the karaoke thing specifically, the license is usually the karaoke provider's, and is part of the package the club buys from him.
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Hisaharu Tanabe
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I have one question.

What if he put the song on his website, given that he has no intention to make profit directly out of the site(displaying ads, charging for the contents, etc.)?

Thanks.

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Crimson Mask I
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Still technically infringement, but doesn't fall under the stuff ASCAP and BMI regulate, even if it was a commercial site, at least not that I know of.
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SpiderGuard
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While we're on this topic, when does a song come in to public domain? If I wanted to sing "Old Man River" for profit, would anyone have ownership over something like that?

SpiderGuard

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half man half biscuit 2
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Over here pretty much every pub, cafe and public place that plays music has the PRS sticker. They have to even if they only play the radio and there are inspectors sent out who will warn and then fine premises who don't have the licence.
At live music venues, some of the more professionalm ones will make you write a setlist with the songs and writers on it . I asked once and apparently they are sent to PRS who allocate a bit more to artists named.
If you don't get clearance when you record it can cost you big. The Verve had a huge hit with Bittersweet Symphony years back but ended up paying almost all profits to the Rolling Stones because the central melody hook which was repeated throughout, 6 beats two times was copied off them. Apparently the reason Hendrix doesn't appear much in films, cover songs, samples, ads etc is that the estate charges a fortune to use his stuff.

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Crimson Mask I
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quote:
Originally posted by SpiderGuard:
While we're on this topic, when does a song come in to public domain?

Under the new law, for works of that era, 95 years after initial copyright or publication, PROVIDED that they were renewed in the 28th year under the old law (actually the OLD old law, under which there were two terms of 28 years for a total of 56, but you had to renew for the 2nd one).

For new works, it's 70 years after the date of death of the last surviving author, or if it's a work for hire, anonymous, or pseudonymous work, 95 years after publication date or 120 years after creation date whichever is shorter.

If I wanted to sing "Old Man River" for profit, would anyone have ownership over something like that?

SpiderGuard


If the renewal was taken, which it probably was, yup. I assume it would be the estates of Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern, the composers. The song's from 1927, so would be protected till 2022.



[ 05-25-2006, 09:27 AM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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Crimson Mask I
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quote:
Originally posted by half man half cookie:
At live music venues, some of the more professionalm ones will make you write a setlist with the songs and writers on it .

That's the rule for concerts over here.

Also since I guess somebody's gonna ask, here's basically how it works. Rick's buddy plays 'American Pie' at the gig. Let's say this gets monitored however. Don McLean gets a little *ding* in his file in the ASCAP or BMI office, whichever one adminisiters that song. Across the street at the disco, they play Madonna's version. Don gets another *ding*. On the other side of the tracks in the French restaurant, the harpist plays 'Vincent'. Don gets another *ding*. At the accounting date, Don's *dings* are counted up, divided by the total number of *dings* recorded for that period for everybody, and his % share is determined. The total revenue X his % = the check he gets.
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Big Van Raider
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The right of "Public Performance" is one of the bundle of rights included in the copyright law. So, theoretically, any time there is a public performance of a song, the copyright holder should be paid. That's the short and simple answer.
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Crimson Mask I
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Right. The 'paid by whom and how' is where it gets a little more complicated.
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MoneyDragon
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Any idea how much the permit costs?

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Big Van Raider
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The costs of ASCAP and BMI licenses depend upon a number of factors, including the type of business, the size of the business, and the types of music being played (live/recorded, etc.). A big dance hall, for example, will pay more than your local dive bar.

The current statutory rate for cover songs is $.91 per record, per song for songs up to five-minutes long. If the song is longer than five minutes, the rate is $.0175 per minute (or fraction of a minute), again, per record, per song. The Harry Fox Agency represents music publishers in granting the licenses and collecting the royalties for cover songs.

The music business is especially interesting when you consider how many people have a stake in each song or album. The record companies own the actual sound recordings. The songwriters own the actual songs, and receive songwriting royalties. And, usually, the songwriters sell half of their songwriting royalties to a publishing company for marketing, promotional, and collection purposes.

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Crimson Mask I
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quote:
Originally posted by Big Van Raider:
The current statutory rate for cover songs is $.91 per record, per song for songs up to five-minutes long. If the song is longer than five minutes, the rate is $.0175 per minute (or fraction of a minute), again, per record, per song. The Harry Fox Agency represents music publishers in granting the licenses and collecting the royalties for cover songs.

Should be clarified that what this refers is the license to RECORD a cover version, or 'second or subsequent recording' of a song that has already been recorded (the 'compulsory license' I mentioned in my first post).
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Wolverine
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What if lyrics are changed around (even slightly)? Would that fall under a parody (even though it may not be satirical) and if so, how do the royalties on that work?
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Crimson Mask I
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If the intent is commercial and evasive as you describe, and not parody per se, then it's infringement pure and simple. Royalties are due, possibly punitive damages also, plus the owner of the original owns the altered version. Has to be proven though, owner of the original has to take legal action, so on so forth. If it's just some altered lyrics and the melody is the same, proof is pretty easy. If it's something more subtle, like say WCW's DDP Teen Spirit ripoff, probably not. You can't copyright a chord progression.
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Chad Bryant
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Like I said, ASCAP and BMI (and the third one I can never remember)

SESAC, fka Society of European Stage Authors & Composers. Their biggest clients are Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond.

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Wrestling Perspective
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RE: Parody

See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994).

The general interpretation is, to avoid needing permission from the composer, the parody has to be a parody of the song. You can't just use the song's melody and chord changes to parody something else without permission (radio stations do this all the time and they are running the risk of getting sued).

Ex. You can probably use the Freebird melody and chord changes to parody Freebird and get away with it w/o seeking permission from the composer(s). Probably.

You can't, however, use the Freebird melody and chord changes to parody Barry Bonds w/o permission from the composer(s).

[ 04-28-2007, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Wrestling Perspective ]

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Fake ... Working Through Wrestling's Past

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Wrestling Perspective
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quote:
Originally posted by Wolverine:
What if lyrics are changed around (even slightly)? Would that fall under a parody (even though it may not be satirical) and if so, how do the royalties on that work?

IMHO, royalties would still be due. Jazz singers change lyrics all the time. Royalties are still due. Jazz musicians alter the harmonies and melodies all the time, but royalties are still due.

Heck, not to dig up the Surfin' USA vs. Sweet Little 16 argument again, but there's a case where Brian Wilson changed the lyrics completely and altered the arrangement, but the basic melody/chord changes, etc. were the same.

So, Chuck Berry's lawyers threatned to sue for royalties and songwriting credits, which they got. (BW always said he changed CB's tune, but BW's father, who handled business, didn't give CB songwriting credit, etc.)

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Wrestling Perspective
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quote:
Originally posted by Big Van Raider:
And, usually, the songwriters sell half of their songwriting royalties to a publishing company for marketing, promotional, and collection purposes.

That's a polite way of saying forced?

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Richard Berger 1A
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I'm borderline ignorant on this subject, so please forgive me if the question is irrelevant or just plain dim...

Where do the street buskers stand in the context of using other performer's material? We see these musicians in large malls and other public places, singing and playing guitars, violins and various other instruments. Of course, they're almost always performing well-known tunes, usually with very few changes to the original arrangements. And we can't leave out the fact that these folks inevitably collect spare change from a (hopefully) appreciative audience. That means they're getting paid, however informally.

Technically, it seems to me that each and every one of these entertainers is in violation of the ASCAP/BMI rules, if what I'm reading is accurate. Yet, it also appears that these folks are not terribly concerned in the least about being "dinged." Further, I'm sure if that was the case, we'd be seeing a lot less of them than we do.

So, my question is this: does ASCAP/BMI give these performers a pass or are they somehow exempt from the rules that apply to the bars, karaoke lounges, etc.?

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Crimson Mask I
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Interesting point.

Malls have Muzak. Therefore they have licenses. So technically I guess, if the musicians are in a mall, and there with the permission of the mall management, it's covered.

On the street? We're talking Flying Under The Radar now.

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Richard Berger 1A
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Oh, and by the way, Grey Ghost ... I'll be first in line at the store to purchase your first CD release. Hope I'm not letting the proverbial cat out of the bag here, but my unimpeachable source tells me it's an a capella tribute to heavy metal music, performed as a duet with William Hung.

I'm sure we'll all be very interested in whatever you can tell us about it...  -

[ 04-28-2007, 10:01 PM: Message edited by: Richard Berger1 ]

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Wrestling Perspective
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Interesting point.

Malls have Muzak. Therefore they have licenses. So technically I guess, if the musicians are in a mall, and there with the permission of the mall management, it's covered.

Just to be contrarian ...

If a mall purchases a Muzak or another service like it, then the rights fees are typically included in the package -- but those rights fees, as I understand it, do not extend beyond the Muzak package that's being purchased.

Now, many malls have pay the ASCAP/BMI fees because they have live performances, or music systems other than Muzak, so they're covered. But a mall that purchased a music package through Muzak or another disributor like it might not be covered.

[ 04-28-2007, 11:33 PM: Message edited by: Wrestling Perspective ]

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Wrestling Perspective
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:

On the street? We're talking Flying Under The Radar now.

Agreed. And simply not worth BMI/ASCAP's time.

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quote:
Originally posted by Wrestling Perspective:
quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Interesting point.

Malls have Muzak. Therefore they have licenses. So technically I guess, if the musicians are in a mall, and there with the permission of the mall management, it's covered.

Just to be contrarian ...

If a mall purchases a Muzak or another service like it, then the rights fees are typically included in the package -- but those rights fees, as I understand it, do not extend beyond the Muzak package that's being purchased.

Now, many malls have pay the ASCAP/BMI fees because they have live performances, or music systems other than Muzak, so they're covered. But a mall that purchased a music package through Muzak or another disributor like it might not be covered.

Right. Shoulda specified.
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GreyGhost from MS
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard Berger1:
Oh, and by the way, Grey Ghost ... I'll be first in line at the store to purchase your first CD release. Hope I'm not letting the proverbial cat out of the bag here, but my unimpeachable source tells me it's an a capella tribute to heavy metal music, performed as a duet with William Hung.

I'm sure we'll all be very interested in whatever you can tell us about it...  -

LoL....yeah, it oughta go over at least as well as Pat Boone's In a Metal Mood.... [Big Grin]

Also agree the street buskers just aren't worth the trouble of litigation.

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stone2k
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard Berger1:
I'm borderline ignorant on this subject, so please forgive me if the question is irrelevant or just plain dim...

Where do the street buskers stand in the context of using other performer's material? We see these musicians in large malls and other public places, singing and playing guitars, violins and various other instruments. Of course, they're almost always performing well-known tunes, usually with very few changes to the original arrangements. And we can't leave out the fact that these folks inevitably collect spare change from a (hopefully) appreciative audience. That means they're getting paid, however informally.

Technically, it seems to me that each and every one of these entertainers is in violation of the ASCAP/BMI rules, if what I'm reading is accurate. Yet, it also appears that these folks are not terribly concerned in the least about being "dinged." Further, I'm sure if that was the case, we'd be seeing a lot less of them than we do.

So, my question is this: does ASCAP/BMI give these performers a pass or are they somehow exempt from the rules that apply to the bars, karaoke lounges, etc.?

I am sure that alot of it depends on the city...when I was in NOLA the street muscians were not licensed, and flew under the radar, but up here in Cambridge, MA the street performers must get a permit through the city, and I am sure that the city must kick back some to the agencies involved in the music business.

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