Skip to comments.Play it again ... and we'll sue - small Venues disappearing as copyright licensing fees get stiffer
Posted on 01/09/2009 11:13:14 AM PST by weegee
...These grass-roots music events... have come up against the demands of US copyright law, as enforced by a handful of companies who act as collection agents for songwriters and composers. The law states that no performer in a public venue can present someone else's copyrighted music without their permission and, usually, without compensating them. A number of agencies, chief among them... BMI and... ASCAP, charge music venues an annual copyright "license fee" ranging from $300 to nearly $10,000 for the privilege of presenting someone else's music.
Much of the music at those Ragged Edge open mics was written by the performers, but there was also cover music... ASCAP wanted a license fee of $900 a year from Ragged Edge owner Jake Schindel. He paid up and, to recoup that expense, started charging a cover fee, which caused attendance to dwindle..
Bruce Schrader... tried to keep his open mics going by having his performers sign waivers stating they were playing only their original songs. Nevertheless, he was faced with demands for $6,000 in license fees from the agencies and had to shut down the weekly event last year.
"Their argument... was that I couldn't possibly know whether the performers were singing any of the millions of copyrighted songs they represent, so I'd better get a license if I didn't want to get sued."
As soon as... owner ...agreed to pay ASCAP an $800 annual fee, two other agencies demanded license fees. So he just stopped offering live music...
...ASCAP's vice president for licensing, says the fees are set at a "very good rate," adding, "What gives anyone the right to use someone else's property, even though they're not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company's going to charge you whether you're making money or not."
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
100 years ago, when all music sales were sheet music (or early recorded discs/piano rolls/wax cylindars), there was no royalty payment for performing a song live or recording a song.
The industry has bought the court decisions that have changed the way we view copyrights.
Defending against one of these suits is simple. Simply ask that the case be dropped becuase Ascap (or whoever) has shown no evidence - at all.
If they have evidence, then you should be paying the fees.
In short, it is a shakedown racket for a (series) of protection fees.
They will send the goons in sometimes when there are no customers around to observe the confrontation.
If you have a tv in your bar, you can be expected to pay. Not for the tv program that is on, but there may be MUSIC in that program or in the commercial break. And they want $$$ for that song.
>>The fallacy of the litigation against these venues is that since there is no audit of just what songs (covers or originals) ARE played, even the represented artists who are being “ripped off” by these open mic (or otherwise booked) artists will not see a dime of the money.<<
Good point. It means that part of a defense would be to ask about exactly which songs were performed illegally. Then, of course, they would need to have proof that said songs were, in fact, actually performed.
BUT if the establishment plays a single CD in the business (regardless of licensing), they would still be a target for the shakedown.
AND just to let you know where Obomber stands:
Obama picks RIAA's favorite lawyer for a top Justice post (CNet January 6, 2009 Declan McCullagh)
Will Obama's copyright czar help save the music? (Yahoo news Sat Nov 15, 2008 Antony Bruno)
I hate the RIAA and now I hate ASCRAP (sic) and other groups that are killing live music.
Nothing but greedy people, they have no love of music, just green. They truly are people with the worth of a gnat.
Oh they count’em alright. I was in an Aerosmith “tribute” band.
Frank Zappa said that no musician ever sent an auditer into the music industry and didn’t find some unpaid money.
In the article, they acknowledge that this is where the next generation of musicians comes from. Potentially. Ultimately, they want to own an artist. Back catalog. Future output. Image (including a cut of t-shirt sales, tickets, and even endorsement revenues).
They also prefer to control the gate of “who gets in” (makes it).
They may act as if they care about the next generation, but they aren’t scouting for talent, they are the taste makers. Which is why the music industry as pushed crap ever since they realized the potential revenues (when they saw Woodstock).
Stupid greedy at that. A neighborhood restaurant had Kareoke three nights a week. ASCAP came in with the shake down. There were two dining rooms that were secluded from the lounge. ASCAP wanted to charge for “total occupancy”. No more Kareoke. So instead of getting the revenue from the lounge. They get nothing.
ASCAP was already getting money from the sale of those karaoke discs too.
It may be time for the states to get involved...especially if there is any “shakedown” or RICO type activity. If they are asking for money...and cant prove it that music was used...that is extortion
This is so far over the top that it’s ridiculous. I see both sides. My daughter is an artist and BMI helps pay her for radio airplay of her music. But she also does covers in her live show at venues all over. The record labels are scrounging to make money because CD sales are in the toilet. The artist, especially the smaller ones, gets screwed. Her main income is live shows, some CD and other merch sales, some download money, and then BMI royalties. It’s tough enough to get folks out for live shows. Once you have the “cover-song police” everywhere it’ll shrivel up and die.
I was watching our boy Brad Pitt standing on a contraption the other day. He had his hands up on the control bars as an electronic automaton did whatever he wanted it to do ~ Brad's head had been reconfigured into an "Old Brad" for use with the scrawny automaton.
Brad was inputting the acting to the automaton. Said it was the easiest acting he'd ever done and thought he'd prefer to make all his movies that way.
BMI and ASCAP aren’t record labels. They are publishing companies.
In fact, we know of BMI today because of the attitudes of ASCAP in the 1940s. They would not publish “hillbilly” or “race” (later called R&B, by Atlantic Records) records.
ASCAP refused to published songs that were the offspring of hillbilly and r&b artists, rock and roll.
ASCAP also pushed the “payola” story (pay for play goes through every year of the music industry prior to rock and roll back to the 1880s) because they woke up to find that BMI held publishing on all of the “hits” and the “hit parade” model no longer worked (where every artist from Sinatra to Perry Como could cover the top songs of the day). Tutti Frutti? Can’t touch it. No, there must be some “other” reason that those songs became hits. It certainly couldn’t have been that anyone actually LIKED that noise.
Was money paid to get some songs noticed over others? Yes. Same as it always was and still is to this day.
And what’s more, payola worked. The songs we know as “hits” (and the ONLY songs we seem to associate with any given era anymore) are the products of payola. Not all songs that were hits or make moldy oldies lists are payola songs. But certainly there are some songs that got through with payola and they are still earning the publishers money to this day.
It’s getting so that even if you are a totally independent artist, you will find your receipts going to Big Media.
Myspace had a system for free downloads and has added some sort of storefront or mechanism for selling merch (downloads, shirts, etc) and they’ve sold a stake of that to the big media companies who will take a cut of every sale.
itunes and amazon downloads may be different, I don’t know.
But ultimately, the big boys are a monopoly (who’ve even been caught price fixing CDs to gouge customers) and they are only getting bigger.
It seems to me that a few goons making vague threats would be enough to fix things nicely for them. They could also hire agents posing as customers to record performances.
“Intellectual property” is a shaky notion. I think it should only cover patents; patents are granted for more than just things.
How much does it cost to file a copyright? It costs thousands to get a patent. I doubt these copyright fees cover the public costs, in terms of court time etc., of the litigation certain to result from this.
No More Cover Bands!!!!
This is the best news I have read in months!
I think the main problem is that the industry is dying . Desperate times call for desperate action. Just as many companies are looking for ways to cut costs, like employee travel, others are trying to exploit every dime out of existing income streams.
For example, airlines start charging for luggage, the record companies start cracking down where they used to “look the other way”.
In time, this will settle down.
What, you didn't know that "Keep A Knockin'" had been recorded by Louis Jordon in 1939 and went back to the 1920s?
There is another side to this issue. Eventually, the licensing agencies will lose money. When no one pays for covers anymore, the supply is gone.
It’s kind of like those discouragement taxes. The taxes are raised in order to discourage the use of an item. Yet, government agencies still budget the money from these taxes. Generally, there is always a shortfall, because the tax works. People find alternatives or quit buying the product/service.
“The fallacy of the litigation against these venues is that since there is no audit of just what songs (covers or originals) ARE played, even the represented artists who are being “ripped off” by these open mic (or otherwise booked) artists will not see a dime of the money. Their representation companies are ripping them off and pocketing the annual fees (collected in their names). “
I dunno - I’m an ASCAP member and get royalties based (best I can tell) on a ratio of my number of tunes over the total reported play of all tunes. It ain’t much, but it buys the occasional dinner out.
ASCAP and BMI want to see their revenue increase every year too. And to a degree, that means shaking down, I mean tapping new revenue streams.
Meanwhile, you can buy rock and roll (including buy artists like Elvis) in England PD now (they are considering changing their copyright laws NOW that the British Invasion acts may lapse).
At some point, PD songs (which would probably include a good chunk of the song library that Tiny Tim used to sing) require no royalty to a corporate hustler.
On the movie side, the MPAA wanted over 1000 bucks to show a movie for an outdoor movie night when I was in college. We made the mistake of asking for their permission instead of just doing it.
Because somebody called, we cancelled that one until we could look at it later.
Yes, all those artists did covers or tributes but they were also able to write their own songs and not have to copy other people’s work to pay rent.
The problem today is that bands play who do not have one original song play in clubs around the country. If they want to play a song that they did nor write they should pay compensation.
Or perhaps they should put pen to paper, write a song and stop ripping off actual artists.
I find it odd that a person can connect certain sounds of various noise-makers together and then they OWN that particular sequence of noises. Sound is not a "product." Which are your sequence of noises? I feel like ripping them.
Until music cannot have a copyright the music is owned by the person who does the writing.
Great. How about we station a jackboot in everyone's house and make sure they aren't playing any unapproved tunes too? Actually a wiretap would work and that's probably coming soon. Are you a jukebox type of guy or what?
So you do not mind if a steal work that you produce so that I can pay my rent?
So you do not mind if a steal work that you produce so that I can pay my rent?
So you do not mind if a steal work that you produce so that I can pay my rent?
Let's start singing really old songs.
We have a distribution “deal” so I’m not sure about Myspace. We also have radio promotion so at least she’s heard all over Texas and beyond. It’s really difficult but I hope her talent will carry her beyond the bullsh*t.
It wouldn't be the first time.
Remember the Taliban?
Some say that he wrote "A Mighty Fortress is our God" around a tavern drinking song melody. Others dispute this; it bothers them. Maybe it was just a popular melody hitched a ride with the people who went to those places.
But since this is so controversial, how 'bout this guy?
He ripped off Luther!
Served Luther right.
Evidently, having only 12 notes isn't easy enough for these scamps. They have to copy each others' work!
How this den of thieves howls and cries foul when they get served their own broth!
They deserve no consideration, whatsoever, in any civilized society.
And their agents, publishers, enablers?
(By the way, I ripped off the artist who painted these pics. Sorry. Fortunately,their dead.)
By the way,
I think I may possibly have, sort of, well, inadvertently, ripped off Weegee’s post, #21.
You ain’t gonna sue me, right?
There’s a great line in “Tighten Up Your Wig” by Steppenwolf (which my band covers): “Just before we go, I’d like to mention Junior Wells. We stole his thing from him, and he from someone else.”
The name weegee is not unique either.
I watched the Classic Albums documentary on the recording of the first Doors’ album.
They got bossa nova drums, a rip off of the Ray Charles’ What’d I Say keys, the bassline from Butterfield Blues Band’s version of some other song, and that unites to give us Break On Through To The Other Side.
As Ray Manzareck said, “we steal from everybody”.
And they covered Kurt Weil, Van Morrison’s Gloria, old Willie Dixon blues songs, Mystery Train, Route 66, etc.
It’s called “the great American song book”.
It’s GOOD to be able to put your own unique stamp on these songs AND to be able to bring something new out of it.
The Pink Floyd started out as a cover band too, playing Louie Louie at UFO and then going freeform into what would later become Interstellar Overdrive and then taking it back to Louie Louie.
Hendrix covered contemporary songs like Wild Thing, Gloria, Day Tripper, All Along The Watchtower, Hey Joe, as well as older songs.
I don’t think that Otis Redding was “paying tribute” to the Archies when he covered Sugar Sugar. Nor was he being ironic.
Separate the songs from the personalities that first recorded them.
Many people who “hit” with a song had no ties to the actual writing of the song. This notion of singer/songwriters is pretty short in the history of music. And even Bob Dylan would concede there are a number of artists who sang some of his songs better than he did.
Did Otis Redding do “Sugar Sugar”?
I thought it was Wilson (Wicked) Picket.
Whoever it was finally did it right.
Two covers come to mind, both by Wilson Picket, and were improvements over the originals: Hey Jude(Beatles) and Hey Joe. I don’t know who wrote the original, and I don’t recall if it was before or after Hendrix did it.
About the Doors: was the guitarist Robbie Krieger? Anyway, he studied flamenco. I think that influenced their rhythms, which for that scene, were distinctive.
Have you seen this video?
It’s hard to admit how much I like the Doors. Morrison still projects more charisma than you’re ever liable to see. And he was crazy, deliberately destroying himself. The band could barely keep him together.
What to make of this? The band itself seems pedestrian at times, just managing to hold on to the tempo. But,they were smart enough to recognize Morrison’s talent. I suppose they exploited him. But I wonder if Morrison could have lived as long as he did without them. I doubt he could have put his songs in any coherent form by himself. They built the frames around his pictures. Strange, fleeting chemistry.