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  • Music in your tap room?

    Has anyone been harrassed or threatened by BMI and hit with accusations of copyright infringement for playing music in their tap room?

    I have a Pandora for business account which states that it is set up to preserve your 'peace of mind.' So I believe I'm covered.

    But with a very new tap room and the first time having a band in (playing original tunes) and within 2 weeks I receive 2 phone calls, a letter and an email as well as a threat that I'll be hearing from their lawyers - it's all a bit messed up. They've been trolling my Facebook page siting my Facebook posts.

    I'm in compliance as far as I can see, but resent these tactics. My stance is to provide no evidence of compliance and make them work for whatever case they are trying to build against me.

    Research on this company online portrays them as bullies to say the least.

    Anyway, after a week of just feeling a bit disturbed by it all, wondering if other breweries have had to deal with the phone calls, threats, emails, letters from the music police?

  • #2
    Yes, we did I didnt follow everything that that happened but one of our investors is a lawyer he looked into it and said it would be best to pay them so we did. They seem to keep pretty close track of all performances
    as evidenced by the phone calls. There have been several threads on here about this exact thing.
    Mike Eme
    Brewmaster

    Comment


    • #3
      Your commercial Pandora covers you on music played through it. If you have ANY live bands, the BMI/ASCAP/SESAC police may/will come after you. They did it to us by trolling FB posts as you mentioned.

      I tried to argue that the band played only original music but to no avail. They had BS excuses like "they may play a cover song on request of the audience" or "there could be former members of the band entitled to royalties". It was all very stupid since the people we were bringing in were unsigned artists and playing for free anyway. We had to make the decision that the fees needed to completely cover our ass with these three extortionists was not worth it to have music once or twice a month. I settled with them for a small fee and promised never to have live music again...
      Scott LaFollette
      Fifty West Brewing Company
      Cincinnati, Ohio

      Comment


      • #4
        What a pain. I was considering live music occasionally but it doesnt seem worth the hassel - I'll just stick to the commercial radio programs out there...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by briangaylor View Post
          What a pain. I was considering live music occasionally but it doesnt seem worth the hassel - I'll just stick to the commercial radio programs out there...
          Yeah, I've decided it's not worth it either.
          Kevin Shertz
          Chester River Brewing Company
          Chestertown, MD

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm not sure that commercial radio stations would get you out of this blackmail. They seem to consider any and all music played in a for-profit space to be fair game.

            Basterds. I doubt the artists ever see a cent of the money these creeps extort from businesses.

            Oh well. We shut up and pay up--live music is a huge draw, especially in the warmer months when it's outside.

            One local establishment does get away without paying by hosting singer-songwriter events--the artists sign statements saying that all the music they play is original with no other claims to it. Not sure how they rigged this, but they may be mobbed up themselves.
            Timm Turrentine

            Brewerywright,
            Terminal Gravity Brewing,
            Enterprise. Oregon.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by yap View Post
              If you have ANY live bands, the BMI/ASCAP/SESAC police may/will come after you.
              This.

              I designed our taproom to meet all the requirements of our friend the "Homestyle Exemption" in the Federal Copyright Act of 1976. 17 US section 110 (5)(b) which reads:

              (5)
              (A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), communication of a transmission embodying a performance or display of a work by the public reception of the transmission on a single receiving apparatus of a kind commonly used in private homes, unless—
              (i) a direct charge is made to see or hear the transmission; or
              (ii) the transmission thus received is further transmitted to the public;
              (B) communication by an establishment of a transmission or retransmission embodying a performance or display of a nondramatic musical work intended to be received by the general public, originated by a radio or television broadcast station licensed as such by the Federal Communications Commission, or, if an audiovisual transmission, by a cable system or satellite carrier, if—
              (i) in the case of an establishment other than a food service or drinking establishment, either the establishment in which the communication occurs has less than 2,000 gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose), or the establishment in which the communication occurs has 2,000 or more gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose) and—
              (I) if the performance is by audio means only, the performance is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space; or
              (II) if the performance or display is by audiovisual means, any visual portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 4 audiovisual devices, of which not more than 1 audiovisual device is located in any 1 room, and no such audiovisual device has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches, and any audio portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space;
              (ii) in the case of a food service or drinking establishment, either the establishment in which the communication occurs has less than 3,750 gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose), or the establishment in which the communication occurs has 3,750 gross square feet of space or more (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose) and—
              (I) if the performance is by audio means only, the performance is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space; or
              (II) if the performance or display is by audiovisual means, any visual portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 4 audiovisual devices, of which not more than one audiovisual device is located in any 1 room, and no such audiovisual device has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches, and any audio portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space;
              (iii) no direct charge is made to see or hear the transmission or retransmission;
              (iv) the transmission or retransmission is not further transmitted beyond the establishment where it is received; and
              (v) the transmission or retransmission is licensed by the copyright owner of the work so publicly performed or displayed;
              So we had exactly the right number of speakers and exactly the right number of TVs of exactly the right size to tell the licensing companies exactly where to stick it.

              BUT

              If you ever do live music, get ready to pay. If you host a trivia game where they play music, get ready to pay. If you ever carge a cover, get ready to pay. Technically internet radio doesn't count as 'radio' either, though it can be a grey area and so if you listen to, say, Pandora get ready to pay for the commercial version. Note that if you have digital radio through your cable though, then that becomes 'tv' and is ok I believe.

              "But we only invite adorable local musicians who only play original and mildly-disturbing songs about their cats!" will not save you. Eventually someone will play a cover of a Johnny Cash song. That is an iron law of nature.

              It is a racket and there's not much you can do about it. States have enacted laws regulating at least the conduct, if not the business, of these companies. So at least get to know if, say, they have to announce that they are in your establishment, etc.. And they will try to charge you based on your total square footage. I got our bill cut in half when I said "Fire Marshal says only 49 people can be in here. That's all I'm paying for."

              If you only rarely have live music (like say, at a once-a-year anniversary party) you can get a temporary license for the event. Might as well CYA.
              Last edited by Bainbridge; 03-17-2016, 09:41 AM.
              Russell Everett
              Co-Founder / Head Brewer
              Bainbridge Island Brewing
              Bainbridge Island, WA

              Comment


              • #8
                So, Russell, what I hear you saying is that my 1,400 s.f. (total floor area; public space is less than 700 s.f.) Tasting Room building that only has an iPod dual speaker base station setup is probably good to go w/o a license fee?
                Kevin Shertz
                Chester River Brewing Company
                Chestertown, MD

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TGTimm View Post
                  I'm not sure that commercial radio stations would get you out of this blackmail. They seem to consider any and all music played in a for-profit space to be fair game.

                  Basterds. I doubt the artists ever see a cent of the money these creeps extort from businesses.

                  Oh well. We shut up and pay up--live music is a huge draw, especially in the warmer months when it's outside.

                  One local establishment does get away without paying by hosting singer-songwriter events--the artists sign statements saying that all the music they play is original with no other claims to it. Not sure how they rigged this, but they may be mobbed up themselves.

                  When I say 'commercial radio' I mean things like the professional version of pandora where they use the fees to pay the licensing agencies. I am assuming that I am free to broadcast the commercial version of pandora as I see fit.

                  As for TV... I think I am limited to 55in or smaller and 4 or less speakers. As long as I follow those 2 rules I can show anything I want from my comcast commercial TV subscription.


                  Hope these assumptions are right!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The research that I've been doing seems to be that the music must be coming off of the radio. Nothing off the internet. If it's internet driven, then a 'for business' service is needed to CYA.

                    There's something not right about it though - the tactics. Trolling social media, calling up and threatening a lawsuit, yet not knowing anything about your business. Its like a mob shakedown. When I was a kid, they used to call it glass insurance. The woman who called me said 'well how do you know every song is original?' There was a story online of their goons going to a place that had weekly keraoke with a voice recorder, requested songs that they hold copyrights to, then using the recording as proof to sue. In the case of breweries, its like artists going after craftsmen. Sorry to all - just venting. But right now I don't have $1000+ to cover every base - the new tap room and expanded brewery is just getting off the ground - so no live music. Just Pandora Business account.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah, BM, Inc. and ASSHAT are know to actually send out "ringers"--spies and provocateurs--to do exactly what you mention. Another place here in town got hit that way--made a request, got a recording and video, called the proprietor and threatened to sue unless he paid up.

                      [rant]
                      With the huge extensions of copyright in the last few decades--it was 25 years, not inheritable or renewable, and is now 75 years and can be inherited and renewed--how can anything even be considered "original"? Look at the "Birthday Song" fiasco, or any of the numerous suits now being pursued based on a single "riff" being plagiarized! Just how many cord progressions are possible within the limits of what we call music? How many ways to construct a paragraph in English? How long until creativity is illegal (there was a sci-fi short written about this exact thing--nothing had been written for a century because it was all covered by copyright--back, I think, in the '50s)?

                      Then there's patent law--Apple can patent the round corner?

                      This began with the US Congress, and can only be fixed by the US Congress.
                      [/rant]
                      Last edited by TGTimm; 03-17-2016, 12:28 PM.
                      Timm Turrentine

                      Brewerywright,
                      Terminal Gravity Brewing,
                      Enterprise. Oregon.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ChesterBrew View Post
                        So, Russell, what I hear you saying is that my 1,400 s.f. (total floor area; public space is less than 700 s.f.) Tasting Room building that only has an iPod dual speaker base station setup is probably good to go w/o a license fee?
                        Yes..and no. You can play the radio. Or TV. But if you're playing your own 'Totally Rad MP3 Summer Playlist 2016' off your iPod or something then no. Or a non-commercial version of internet radio like the free normal Pandora, or a full album vid off Youtube, etc.. No to those. You do run into some interesting arguments. For example, we have horrible radio and cell signal here. So I would argue that playing the livestream off our fantastic Seattle independent radio station KEXP, www.kexp.org, is the same as listening to the 'radio'.

                        And they will send spies to check in. They will sit at your bar. Order a beer. Make polite conversation. Then sneak a photo of that iPhone your staff plugged into the stereo back there. Then they'll send a letter with a copy of that photo and say pay up. If you don't they will sue, and they will promptly win.

                        It's a hate the playa and the game kinda situation.
                        Last edited by Bainbridge; 03-17-2016, 12:45 PM.
                        Russell Everett
                        Co-Founder / Head Brewer
                        Bainbridge Island Brewing
                        Bainbridge Island, WA

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TGTimm View Post
                          Yeah, BM, Inc. and ASSHAT are know to actually send out "ringers"--spies and provocateurs--to do exactly what you mention. Another place here in town got hit that way--made a request, got a recording and video, called the proprietor and threatened to sue unless he paid up.

                          [rant]
                          With the huge extensions of copyright in the last few decades--it was 25 years, not inheritable or renewable, and is now 75 years and can be inherited and renewed--how can anything even be considered "original"? Look at the "Birthday Song" fiasco, or any of the numerous suits now being pursued based on a single "riff" being plagiarized! Just how many cord progressions are possible within the limits of what we call music? How many ways to construct a paragraph in English? How long until creativity is illegal (there was a sci-fi short written about this exact thing--nothing had been written for a century because it was all covered by copyright--back, I think, in the '50s)?

                          Then there's patent law--Apple can patent the round corner?

                          This began with the US Congress, and can only be fixed by the US Congress.
                          [/rant]

                          Have you seen the movie Idiocracy? It was supposed to be a comedy but im starting to think it was a documentary about 10 years ahead of its time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bainbridge View Post
                            Yes..and no. ... It's a hate the playa and the game kinda situation.
                            Thank you, friend I've never met. Great insight. You write like I wish I could talk... visit us if ever in the area.
                            Kevin Shertz
                            Chester River Brewing Company
                            Chestertown, MD

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              We paid up, and decided if we're going to pay money to these bastards we might as well have live music almost every night of the week.. So that's what we do now.

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