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Music Industry Shaking Down Coffee Shops

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the pay-us-or-something-might-happen dept.

Music 541

realjd writes with news out of Florida that music licensing companies are now hitting small bars and coffee shops that offer live music, even if only occasionally and even if the musicians don't get paid. One coffee-shop owner told musicians they can only perform their own songs from now on. "A restaurant owner who doesn't even offer live music was approached for payment for having the TV on while the Monday Night Football theme played. And if the owners pay up to one licensing company, all of the others start harassing them, calling four times a day, demanding payment too. It sounds like they don't even check whether any copyright violations occurred, they're just sending bills to any business that may or may not have live music."

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Artists Truly Devastated (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792151)

I once played in a band in Minneapolis at tiny coffeehouses in Dinkytown or Uptown. In a three piece band we would play 50% originals and 50% covers to make things enjoyable for the crowds. We hoped that perhaps people who liked the covers would also like the other songs they heard and buy a CD.

<sarcasm>

I must say that it's about time they cracked down on these coffeehouses! I received no payment for playing but I watched customers repeatedly purchase drinks sometimes resulting in $1, $2 or even $3 transactions! Clearly this was only because the combo I was in was playing well known standards.

In the end, I apologize to Coldplay, Radiohead, The Beta Band, The Turin Brakes, The Beatles, The Doves and all the other bands we blatantly abused to slightly increase the sales at a small fledgling establishment. I know that these artists are undoubtedly ruined by the actions of me and my fellow band mates while we were in college. In the wrongest sense, we evaded the long arm of the law and all deserve felonies if we don't face life sentences.

However, this story has a happy ending, as one of the establishments we had the most shows at (The Purple Onion) is no more now that Starbucks has moved in across the street. Corporate America wins again in this story and we no longer have to suffer from the grave injustices committed near 15th and University Ave in Dinkytown. Hopefully all of these small time operations are shut down one after the other so I don't have to see walls beautifully covered with art featuring a different student artist every week. Instead, I can rest easy in my non-world-disrupting CEO approved mainstream environments ... with no other options. Truly the highlander of coffeehouses stood up one day in Seattle and said, "There can be only one!" and now there is today.

</sarcasm>

It's too bad that this cycle will take far too long for the public to realize what they'll be losing by allowing this to occur. It's also very sad that I'm probably a minority of people who live in remorse about this sort of thing--and for that reason it will probably continue to happen. When I saw this headline, it was equivalent to "Music Licensing Companies List 'Eating Kittens' as Favorite Pastime, 'Destroying Dreams' a Close Second."

If you can point me to proof that there's any artist out there that really wants things to be this way, I'd be shocked. This is a classic case of an idea and organization formed with good intentions that has slowly become an uncontrollable machine. The worst part is that if a coffeehouse is sued, I doubt the original artist can intervene as they've probably already signed contracts punishable by death. We would have to wait for a whole new generation of musicians to arise to avoid these mistakes though I doubt they could make it without the affiliation of the large governing organizations.

Hold your local artists that are on indie labels or making it by themselves on a higher level, America. Soon, they will face extinction and your relationship to them will be governed through a man in a suit.

I'll end this post with an excerpt from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, Working for MCA:

Slickers steal my money since I was seventeen,
if it ain't no pencil pusher then it got to be a honky tonk queen.
But I signed my contract, baby, and I want you people to know
that every penny I make, I gotta see where my money goes.

Want you to sign the contract,
want you to sign the date.
Gonna give you lots of money
workin' for MCA.
My advice if you want to 'just happen' to hear some good live music would be to first leave the country.

Pop-Goes-The-Weasle Makes Insps Pause at Daycare (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792189)

Let The Sun Shine In: Transparency in Government ..

globaltics.net [globaltics.net]

Re:Pop-Goes-The-Weasle Makes Insps Pause at Daycar (-1, Offtopic)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792241)

I found the blurb about Al Gore's kid interesting ... I didn't know a Prius could do 100 MPH.

Don't Everyone Vote at Once ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792345)

Pick your favorite United Kingdon Prime Minister! Vote Now!

globaltics.net [globaltics.net]

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792213)

If you can point me to proof that there's any artist out there that really wants things to be this way, I'd be shocked.
Which way? That a songwriter gets paid when you play her song? Or that a venue that earns money by having music gets a bill for said music?

And I've worked in small businesses. They suck. You think Starbucks is bad? Try that little coffee shop after a dozen years or so.

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792281)

In the end, I apologize to Coldplay, Radiohead, The Beta Band, The Turin Brakes, The Beatles, The Doves and all the other bands we blatantly abused to slightly increase the sales at a small fledgling establishment.

Bands which, when they were just starting, also blatantly abused THEIR predecessors...

Sarcasm aside: pot, meet kettle.

Only now you can't do it any more. YOU are a criminal (or soon will be!). THEY weren't.

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (4, Informative)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792291)

The purple onion is still there, they just moved a block over to a new location.

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792377)

The purple onion is still there, they just moved a block over to a new location.
I'll be damned, they merely moved [mndaily.com] ! You, sir, have made my month. Last time I was there, I tried going there to buy flavored steamed milk drink (something you don't see on the menu at many places) but found a different store there.

Well, I know what I have to hit next time I make it back to Minneapolis. Do you know if The European Grind [stkate.edu] still alive?

Thank you again!

OT eldavojohn

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792387)

It's too bad that this cycle will take far too long for the public to realize what they'll be losing by allowing this to occur

You mean like "maybe we should be listening to good original local music, not popular crap"?

I can't believe you call yourself a musician yet you defend places that want to play mass produced crap.

ORLY? (2, Insightful)

thegnu (557446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792401)

This is a classic case of an idea and organization formed with good intentions that has slowly become an uncontrollable machine.

O MFING RLY? [wikipedia.org] Good intentions? I disagree! I unconcur!

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (1)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792491)

Good post, however, i'm wondering where I can find some of these $1 drinks.

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792659)

Even the $3 ones sounded like a deal to me.

Re:Artists Truly Devastated (1)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792577)

Last I heard, the Purple Onion moved a few blocks away into that new condo they built on University Ave.

Good (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792177)

I hope you enjoy your new silent USA.

Re:Good (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792215)

I agree with lots of the posts from Americans I have seen here in slashdot before that state that if USA is *this* terrible why are people still willing to live there? I really can not understand it, what is it there in the USA that people, even some Britons (I live in Britain today) want to live there??

Re:Good (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792383)

I really can not understand it, what is it there in the USA that people, even some Britons (I live in Britain today) want to live there??
The grass is always greener...etc.

disclaimer: I'm a brit, and now refuse to visit the USA due to draconian "security" measures; they're almost as bad as some of the stuff we have to put up with here...

Re:Good (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792385)

Because it is pretty hard to move to another country. My aunt has lived in France for about 40 years and only recently was given citizenship.

Re:Good (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792625)

She's an exception, then. While it is often very difficult to get a residency/work visa in another country, it usually only takes a few years of residence before you're eligible for naturalization. France in particular only requires five years [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Good (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792585)

I really can not understand it, what is it there in the USA that people, even some Britons (I live in Britain today) want to live there??

Honesty about how crappy government is. We know our government is a bunch of jack-booted thugs. In fact, that's essentially our basic founding principle.

That, and the world's biggest economy, with a respectable GDP even given a virtually wide-open immigration policy (which drags the darn thing down, as every tom dick and harry comes and fails to get the American dream) and virtually exploited natural resources (which prop up the economy of other countries, like UAE.)

When it all comes down to it, it's all about the benjamins.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792649)

I agree with lots of the posts from Americans I have seen here in slashdot before that state that if USA is *this* terrible why are people still willing to live there? I really can not understand it, what is it there in the USA that people, even some Britons (I live in Britain today) want to live there??

Guns. Lots of guns.

And low taxes.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792679)

...if USA is *this* terrible why are people still willing to live there?

Here are a few reasons,
we aren't being dominated by insane Islamofacists,
it's a lot less expensive,
the USA is still the land of opportunity.

In short, it isn't so terrible at all.

Re:Good (1)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792321)

Actually, if it means I don't have to hear songs about "shorty's birthday" anymore I will enjoy a silent USA.

Re:Good (1)

sleigher (961421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792523)

I was just thinking that. Based on what music has been produced in the US over the past 15-20 years a little bit of silence might be a good thing. Maybe that will give some real music a chance for once instead of industry contrived crap.

A new idea for the RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792191)

How about you simply hire members of the mafia to provide "protection" instead? You go to a bar, have your goons tell the owner "it would be a shame if these bands covering top 40s were to somehow...have an accident". Paid and done. Yippee!

Humming? (4, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792193)

Damn, now I'm afraid to even hum a tune in Starbucks!

Re:Humming? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792309)

just bring your laptop and download one on their "free" WiFi. Ooops?

Not the RIAA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792201)

Before you guys get all worked up, remember that it's NOT the RIAA behind this. It's the LICENSING companies.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792211)

lol

I hope they keep it up (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792223)

Inevitably, the "music licensing" mafia is going to pull this kind of shit on an establishment that is owned by/associated with a senator, or judge, or district attorney. And then, finally, things will change. They'll get smacked down, hard.

Well, probably not. But hope springs eternal.

Re:I hope they keep it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792363)

Keep hoping. As we know from the Bush daughters burn a mixed CD for father, go unpunished [slashdot.org] , when the RIAA realizes a potential target of lawsuit has political power or is politically connected, they back off. I think in legal circles this is called selective prosecution. It is good if you are the MPAA or RIAA to make sure that no one in power has to suffer from the consequences of the bad law they purchased or the influence of corrupt organizations.

Better yet... (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792557)

I hope they try it on a few places owned by the REAL MAFIA. If enough of these turds end up floating in the local river, bay, or whatever, things WILL change. Especially if one of the floaters is a big cheese.

Right to Read (5, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792225)

Honestly, this is getting crazy. It reminds me of Stallman's short story/essay, "Right to Read" where you have to have a license to read a book you borrowed from the library or from a friend.

Music has always been something that was freely exchanged throughout human history. Songs belonged in the public domain, even if no one thought of it and framed it in those terms. There were just songs that people had always sang or played, and had no apparent author.

Now we are entering a period where the RIAA seems to think they should get a dollar from you if you whistle a tune when you walk down the sidewalk. Has the hookers and cocaine money train really slowed down that much for them? They must be a bunch of paranoid, power-mad f*cks with an extreme sense of entitlement.

Re:Right to Read (4, Insightful)

BerntB (584621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792389)

I agree with your points, but consider what a boom this might be for people writing their own music. We might think of this as a good thing in ten years.

The world is a better place with a few cover bands less... (You won't believe me, but I heard a local band that did Bowie as good as the original. I'm more of a jazz, folk and death metal man, but they were good -- I hope they can write!)

Re:Right to Read (4, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792521)

Now we are entering a period where the RIAA seems to think they should get a dollar from you if you whistle a tune when you walk down the sidewalk. Has the hookers and cocaine money train really slowed down that much for them? They must be a bunch of paranoid, power-mad f*cks with an extreme sense of entitlement.
The RIAA isn't involved in this mess. The people asking for money is ASCAP, BMI, and other licensing companies - these companies (unlike the RIAA) collect money for the writers to pay out for the royalties on the original music, not to the publishers for the recording. Typically, these organisations are less evil than RIAA. It should also be noted that they're charging $300 a year, which should be pocket change to a business (and they likely wouldn't even charge a regular person - when was the last time you heard of ASCAP suing old grannies?)

Re:Right to Read (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792579)

You must be new here. This is a story about the music business, and thus just a thinly veiled excuse to bash the RIAA in the comments, and call for the abolition of copyright. Nobody here cares about actual facts, or the case that in the UK, we have had the performing rights society collecting music licenses from premises for at least the last 20 years (a friend of mine used to work for them), and I suspect, much much longer.

for the lazy... (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792631)

for the lazy, this is the article which the OP was talking about when he mentioned the "right to read"... http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]

It really is worth reading. Fascinating and scary at the same time. Not that long, and contains an update which brings the current trends we've seen to light within the context that RMS sets out in the parable.

Re:Right to Read (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792675)

"Right to Read" where you have to have a license to read a book you borrowed from the library or from a friend.

Stallman is an anti-copyright extremist. An easy from him should be taken with the same grain of salt as an essay from the Pope about atheism.

In pure legal terms, you do have a license to read any book that you have a physical copy of. And there are some works where you only get a copy if you agree to a more strict license, which includes control of said physical copy.

Music has always been something that was freely exchanged throughout human history. Songs belonged in the public domain, even if no one thought of it and framed it in those terms. There were just songs that people had always sang or played, and had no apparent author.

Such music, btw, is crap. Imagine the top-40 crapfest you hear today, only without the spit and polish money brings. We've had literally centuries of musicians creating new and good music, and they did so chiefly because they were guaranteed fame and a fair chance at fortune if their song became popular.

FWIW, if you DO own a coffee shop, spend the $300 and have your lawyer get you what you need to be free and clear. And then tell those bill collectors to fuck off.

Derivative Works? (3, Insightful)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792231)

Moving beyond the point that this has to be the most purely dick move I have ever heard of, isn't a live performance of a song written by someone else a cover? Isn't a cover a derivative work protected by law? I mean, Weird Al does derivative performances that copy nearly exactly the music of some artists (he usually alters only the lyrics) and every time he does a M. Jackson song he gets sued by MJ, and he always wins. What's the difference here?

Re:Derivative Works? (4, Informative)

emtilt (618098) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792319)

A cover is not a derivative work, it is a performance of the song, which is the melody and lyrics. A cover is usually using the melody and lyrics in their entirety, even if the arrangement is change (and arrangements do not have copyrights). Weird Al is protected because it is a derivative parody and satirization, which is specifically protected under copyright law. Further, I would bet that he/his label licenses the music anyway just to be safe.

Re:Derivative Works? (1)

QMalcolm (1094433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792569)

Arrangements don't have copyrights? I kinda remember that some sheet music in high school had "this arrangement copyright Bob Loblaw" along with the composer copyright information. Is that only when they're actually hired to make a specific arrangement?

Re:Derivative Works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792331)

Fair use

Re:Derivative Works? (4, Informative)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792399)

I mean, Weird Al does derivative performances that copy nearly exactly the music of some artists (he usually alters only the lyrics) and every time he does a M. Jackson song he gets sued by MJ, and he always wins. What's the difference here?

He still has to pay royalties to the song writer. Note, by this I mean the person who wrote the music, not the original lyrics.

Re:Derivative Works? (4, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792673)

BTW, what's the ASCAP fee for your sig?

Just curious :-)

Re:Derivative Works? (3, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792429)

The way I understand it, there's a concept of compulsory licensing in the music industry. If you want to perform a cover of another artist's song, the other artist can't stop you from doing that (imagine you're Slayer and you want to cover a song written by Oral Roberts). But you do have to pay the original artist; I believe the agreed-upon fee is a set percentage of the profits of your recording.

For venues that allow live music, which might "give public performances" (i.e. play out loud) any number of songs, the way they work it is that ASCAP/BMI offers a program where the venue can play a flat fee that allows them to play unlimited songs.

For radio stations it's a little different ... if you worked at your college radio station, you might recall that radio DJs are required to keep meticulous records of all the songs they play. The flat-fee approach for bars and restaurants allows them to avoid this recordkeeping.

Most bars actually don't complain about this, because for them the fee really is actually fairly reasonable. People come to bars to get drunk, order more beers and shots than they originally planned, plug quarters into the juke box and the pool table, and the bar owner is happy. Few people buy more than two lattes at a coffee shop, on the other hand.

It sounds to me like the coffee shop owners aren't getting "shaken down" any more than any other business (like a bar or restaurant) is. What they seem to be saying is that, unlike bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, they can't afford it.

Re:Derivative Works? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792509)

I believe the agreed-upon fee is a set percentage of the profits of your recording.

and if your profit is 0...?

Re:Derivative Works? (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792551)

It's not a percentage. It's a per unit cost. I recall reading something about it the other day, actually.

Have a read of http://www.cleverjoe.com/articles/music_copyright_ law.html [cleverjoe.com] - it's really quite informative.

Re:Derivative Works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792471)

Straight-up cover songs are either derivative works or just copies of the originals. If they're derivative works, creators/users of derivative works are still liable to the original copyright holders. If you add something new, you hold the copyright to the new part, but the original copyright holder can block you from using the original portion.

I think, actually, that the difference w/ Wierd Al is that his songs are parodies, and he may have been successfully arguing fair use defenses. Parodies get fairly strong fair use protection. (And now somebody could go look up a case or two if they really wanted to know.)

Also, Weird Al gets permission most of the time, and most artists are honored by his parodies. (According to Wikipedia, Nirvana felt that they knew they had "made it" when Al wanted to do a parody of Smells Like Teen Spirit.)

Re:Derivative Works? (1)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792605)

Weird Al personally gets permission from artists to create parodies of their songs.

What about internet radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792233)

What about streaming music from internet radio? I know one coffee shop in my town (Sweden) that streams music from a very well known radiostation. Is that against the record companies agendas too?

Still, this is Sweden, it's not that bad here just yet....

Re:What about internet radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792305)

Money talks my friend.

If you don't think the record companies are trying to buy out the politicians running Sweden you would be wrong :P

Even if the current round of politicians don't sell out, the next will... just a matter of time before this is all global.

Re:What about internet radio? (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792333)

In the UK this would be covered by a license from the PRS, along with any other live music. Just playing radio is quite cheap (cost £14 a year for the last shop I worked for). You also have to have the PRS logo on show.0 A venue that is owned by my dad has a PRS which covers live sound. License isn't expensive, all we have to do is ask for a list of the set played. PRS can ask for it at any time. The list just helps to where the revenue money should go. Agadoo song must get a lot of royalty pay in the UK. The labels and publishers deserve their money. Quite right you should pay for the license.

Many are frauds (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792247)

"There are so many damned companies you don't know who to pay," he said. "One guy called and said I had to pay him if I played any gospel music at all. It's really a mess."

Many of those guys are full of shit. They're just small time crooks. It's like the folks who send phony invoices to businesses for office supplies that they never ordered.

On the other hand, the employees of the Pizza place where a friend of mine worked, would play their own CDs of music they owned. You're not supposed to do that. A few years ago, here in Atlanta, the music folks went around and started billing local restaurants for playing music - even if it was CDs that was rightfully owned.

Re:Many are frauds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792375)

On the other hand, the employees of the Pizza place where a friend of mine worked, would play their own CDs of music they owned. You're not supposed to do that. A few years ago, here in Atlanta, the music folks went around and started billing local restaurants for playing music - even if it was CDs that was rightfully owned.

Public performance of copyrighted music at a business requires a license. Private playing does not.

Re:Many are frauds (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792443)

Is it public performance if they were playing it in the kitchen for entertainment on the job, rather than to entertain customers?

Now will everybody quit asking (1)

backbyter (896397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792249)

how low they'll stoop?

Re:Now will everybody quit asking (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792329)

if there's a penny to be had, you can guarantee they will stoop as low as they have to to pick it up. After all, recording music is SO damned expensive. I mean, the recording studio ALONE costs nearly $50,000 a DAY (yeah right)

You call it a shakedown... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792261)

... they call it 'commercial misuse.'

Let's look at the poor, poor coffee house that has the MNF theme playing; the MNF theme (and Monday Night Football itself) is licensed for home viewing. When you're taking that broadcast and then playing it in a commercial venue, the business is violating the license--this is where the "express permission of ESPN and the NFL" thing comes in.

I work for DirecTV, and unfortunately this kind of fraud is common. It's not that it isn't available--DirecTV offers commercial-use programming (including the NFL Sunday Ticket) but I can guarantee you that a business is going to spend a lot more than $250 on the season.

Re:You call it a shakedown... (4, Insightful)

Blkdeath (530393) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792495)

Let's look at the poor, poor coffee house that has the MNF theme playing; the MNF theme (and Monday Night Football itself) is licensed for home viewing. When you're taking that broadcast and then playing it in a commercial venue, the business is violating the license--this is where the "express permission of ESPN and the NFL" thing comes in.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't sports broadcasts (Footbal et al.) have a very large portion of their time taken up by commercials? Isn't it beneficial for the broadcasters to have their commercials put in front of hundreds of consumers? It's not like bars/restaurants mute the TV or change the channel or use PVR "commercial skip" measures during commercial breaks. The volume is also typically quite loud so the broadcast can be heard over the normal bar banter so what's the problem?

Further to this, commercials broadcast during a football game are generally geared towards the very demographic of those patrons in the bar. 20-50 year old males with a propensity towards alcohol, women, social activities, cars/trucks, etc. so the commercials are being broadcast directly into a testosterone filled den of the core target audience. Moreover, you know if these men are at a bar they have the disposable income with which to purchase the promoted products so they're more likely to have a positive input for the advertisers and therefore the network(s) broadcasting the event.

Am I missing something here?

Re:You call it a shakedown... (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792655)

Everything you say is true, but you're missing a further bit of irony:

Businesses are also expected to pay more for television service than residential customers. It's another form of licensing fee, similar to what ASCAP/BMI does to music in public places.

See, for example, commercial.dishnetwork.com [dishnetwork.com] -- it's a whole different animal than their residential pricing, policies, and packages.

Re:You call it a shakedown... (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792511)

I can understand something like DirecTV, where you're explicitly paying for certain content and as such, it constitutes a "license". What baffles me is MNF is a *broadcast* thing, meaning anybody with a crappy TV set and antenna can pick it up. It's not like in the US, buying a TV set in any way contributes to the content providers. For fuck's sake, if you don't want people to watch it, don't broadcast it. Anything blasted over the public airwaves should be available for public viewing, be that a TV in my bedroom or in the corner of my favorite bar.

IMHO, the NFL and MLB have gotten *way* too disconnected from the fact that it's fans that make the money. I like both sports, but I now refuse to watch either NFL or major league baseball games - live or televised. I'd rather go support my local minor league baseball team and the NHL, who seems very reasonable about the whole thing.

Re:You call it a shakedown... (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792535)

As evidence I don't watch either anymore, I had forgotten that MNF moved to ESPN off of broadcast. Whoops.

Out of Hand (4, Insightful)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792271)

This is really getting out of hand. Pretty soon you're going to have to pay royalties if you have the radio on with passengers in your car, which isn't that far a stretch from paying royalties for songs played on a TV in a bar. It's not going to be much longer before either someone sane intervenes or the recording industry collapses under the weight of thousands of lawsuits against its primary customers.

We can hope for the latter.

Wait how many licensing agencies are there? (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792273)

At first I was just going to blow this off as yet another bar that was trying to get away with not paying it's ASCAP fees, then I read the part where one owner had already payed ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, and were still getting billed by other piss-ant licensing companies trying to extort money out of him. Are these people for real or are they just scammers? I thought the entire purpose of having a statutory license for live performance was to avoid crap like this.

This in't just about cover songs (5, Informative)

spazmonkey (920425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792283)

My coffee shop was shaken down by ASCAP a couple years back, and they were very clear about the fact that even if it was original music, they still wanted to be paid. In fact, when I pointed out we did not have a stage and did not have live music, They said in no uncertain terms that since we could not absolutely prove to them that no music was ever performed there, we had to pay anyway or face litigation, prosecution (yea, right), and an injunction shutting us down. That and what they wanted was not just a grand or two, I don't remember, but it was excessive. We told them to piss off and gave them our attorneys number, and we never heard from them again. Other shops in the area did pay out, though, and one CLOSED because of the legal harassment. What a racket.

Re:This in't just about cover songs (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792343)

You should be modded "informative." From what you're saying, by extension they could shake down the local Macdonald's or Burger King, or any other place people gather in public. I'd like to see them try it on one of the ultramegafranchises.

Re:This in't just about cover songs (4, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792423)

Disclaimer: I am not advocating this. Not! This is just an observation.

You know, I'm surprised we don't hear about anyone going on a shooting spree inside the offices of the MAFIAA or ASCAP, etc. It's kind of a testament to human goodness that so far, no one driven out of business by these terrorists (yeah, I said it) has freaked out and decided to take their antagonists with them. I mean, given how many hundreds of small businesses have been ruined be these shenanigans, not a single owner has been unstable enough to want revenge? Again, I'm not saying that's what should happen. I'm just kind of surprised that it hasn't.

Re:This in't just about cover songs (5, Interesting)

Gyppo (982168) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792473)

Yep. This garbage has been going on for years and years. Here's a story from the SF Chronicle about a bar that quit having live music all together after constant threats from ASCAP. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/ 12/03/BUGL13CH5H26.DTL [sfgate.com]

Re:This in't just about cover songs (1)

pravuil (975319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792619)

Stuff like this disturbs me. Why doesn't anyone fight back outside of an appeal? There should be limitations that people like this should adhere to. I'm all for music but these people are bankrupting the industry by doing stuff like this. If I was a dominant shareholder in the company, I would kick all the leadership out and reinvest in finding new management. The way I see it, the industry is as low can get it because what they are doing is racketeering. It can't get any lower than this.

It's not just the USA either.... (1)

lenova (919266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792289)

Sadly, this kind of harassment isn't confined solely to the USA. I was waiting in line at a take-out restaurant in Galway, Ireland last week, where a 'representative' of the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) came in and began harassing the manager, claiming that it was illegal to be playing a commercial radio station in the restaurant, and that he must buy a license to continue playing music. Now, regardless of the legalities here or whether there was any actual legal bite behind this BPI shill's bark, does the record industry truly believe that it will survive on the euros and cents of small mom-and-pop outlets, such as this restaurant?

Nothing new here (3, Insightful)

ZoneGray (168419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792295)

This has been how it's worked for decades. ASCAP/BMI are assigned the public performance rights to songs, and they can be very thorough about collecting from everybody owes them. In the past, they've even harrassed companies where the employees played music in areas that could be heard by the public. Own a small retail store and play CD's in the background? Then you owe them a licensing fee.

While ASCAP/BMI can be very heavy-handed, I have to say that it's hardly the worst aspect of IP law. The good part of the arrangement is that a band can perform whatever cover songs they want, and licensing is the club owner's responsibility. And, y'know, if you write a song and somebody else performs it, you ought to get paid.

The bad part is that the convenience of uniting all the performance rights under a single umbrella creates an overly powerful organization.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

cerelib (903469) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792609)

if you write a song and somebody else performs it, you ought to get paid
Why? Next you are going to tell me that every time a first grade class has "story time" an author should be getting paid.

Who says they really own the rights? (1)

kevinatilusa (620125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792299)

"Andrus said a friend of his who owned a restaurant that did not feature music was contacted by a company looking to charge him because it owned the rights to a Hank Williams Jr. song, "Are You Ready for Some Football?" The song preceded every "Monday Night Football" telecast, which the restaurant carried on its televisions."

In this situation in particular my suspicion is the friend was being shaken down by a fraudster who didn't really own the rights to the song, but was playing off of restaurants' fear of lawsuits.

Shouldn't licensing to the song have been included in the licensing fee the restaurant paid to publicly show "Monday Night Football" (the show already having paid a licensing fee to use the song)?

Fraud (2, Informative)

xmedar (55856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792311)

IANAL. This fits the definition of fraud, i.e. attempting to obtain money by deception, I would contact the police, give them any evidence and let them deal with it, if the police don't do anything because of their ties to the industry then that's corruption and you should contact Internal Affairs or whatever they go by these days, if they do nothing then it's probably upto the Feds. If no joy on any of these I suggest that someone set up a website to collect donations for a private criminal prosecution. I am not a lawyer but a close family member is a member of the judicary in the UK and as US law was based on UK law the standards should be similar.

Boycott RIAA, et al music (1)

desNotes (900643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792323)

I believe it is time stand up and be heard regarding the mafia approach to copyrighted music. It is obvious our government representatives do not believe in fair use of copyrights and are in the RIAAs pocket. I suggest a boycott of all artists that use these mafia type organizations to shake down music listeners. It is sad that it has to come to this but how bad does it get before we do something to stand up for our own rights.

Corporate fascism ad portas? (4, Insightful)

presarioD (771260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792355)

Funny how people think that fascism is related to loud patriotic parades, exposition of insignia and group thinking, oppression of freedom and... well you get the idea, when it can just metastasize from within the society, perfectly legal (if it is not, new "sponsored" legislation will make it so) creeping up not on freedom itself but on its "pricelessness".

Do you want to be free? There is a price for it (brought to you by $favorite_company). Did you just glance while walking down the street at the store window TV playing Super Bowl? You owe $favorite_company money my friend! Our new eye movement, eye direction-focus detectors never lie. Your eyes were focused on the TV screen for 0.134s, thus you owe us royalties buddy...


Oh, I know how all this will end alright...and it won't be pretty...


I'm in the wrong industry (1)

timon (46050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792359)

Here am I working like a sucker, when I could have been running a protection racket!

You know what'd be really fun? (1)

Chuqmystr (126045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792361)

I want to see the RIAA hire some of those Nigerian 419er fiends and start concocting some really wacky, sketchy methodologies for "seeking compensation". Yup, good times!

Licensing entertainment (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792371)

Just think about how absurd the very notion is.

But you know what they say: If you can't beat'm, join'm.

So with that, I'm making available for sale the licensing to orgasm or sexual climax. Yes, that's right. Whether or not you find it entertaining, relaxing or just good exercise, I'm here to claim that I own rights to all orgasmic experiences everywhere.

Lately I have been cracking down on all S.O.B.s (sexually oriented businesses) but starting tomorrow, I'll start going door-to-door seeking out couples of all sorts seeking royalties for their orgasmic activities. Following the campaign on couples, I'll be going after solo activity as well.

So either abstain or I'll be coming for royalties... or you'll be coming for royalties... or I'll be collecting the royalties on your coming... or royally be coming on your... Hey, there's a pretty good pun in there somewhere.

Re:Licensing entertainment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792505)

Well, you may be able to collect from me but I don't think my wife will have to pay.

Cutting out the ground from underneath (1)

mckinnsb (984522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792405)

They are just trying to get at little startup bands that are fueling the DRM-free online music trade. Honestly though, this is pretty ridiculous. Any band has the right to play any song they choose.

why not simply refuse to pay? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792409)

Won't someone call these jokers? Don't pay and force the music industry to forget the bills or try a lawsuit. Of course, would want to lay some groundwork first to have a shot at winning any eventual suit. Ask the EFF and ACLU for advice and help. Round up a whole bunch of fellow defendants. Milk it for all the publicity it's worth-- could be very good for business. And raise a bit of money, ask for donations, that sort of thing. If there are people who'll help pay Scooter Libby's $250,000 fine, a piddling few thousands should be easy.

Since the government won't do anything... (0, Flamebait)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792417)

I think that it's about time that we start dispensing some vigilante justice to these music industry racketeers.

It's high time that we start firebombing offices and assassinating executives and the lawyers that work for these slimeballs.

the bands fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792421)

the bands should be the ones to pay any fees for the music they play, not he coffee shop. the coffee shops usually pays the bands to play so the payment should take care of any copyright fees.

And? (2, Insightful)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792425)

I'm not certain why the article is trying to suggest that it's unfair for small companies to have to pay when they use copyrighted material to help their business. I'm not certain that I even disagree with the price some of the companies are asking for in licensing.

I'm sure some people will rant about freedom of music but the original example was $400 or £200 I honestly don't think £200 a year is that much to ask in licensing costs. The particular café should have factored in the cost of playing someone else's music when they offered the service. Reading the other examples it seems the companies are requesting proportional fee's depending on venue, this isn't some evil RIAA tactic it's a company defending its IP against small business's who have been abusing it.

I agree that the harassment tactics the companies are using is wrong and its what the article should have been about. Perhaps it should have centred itself around the idea that record companies aren't checking to see if their IP is being infringed just sending bills and harassing small business owners into giving them money. I will admit the TV theme tune demand is planly stupid and I'm not sure it would be legal. But obviously the current system needs reworking and *shock* maybe some government regulation or control so small business could navigate the system as well as put what seems rogue traders like man who claimed to own gospel IP and the TV tune claimers out of business.

But as far as I'm concerned small business's getting stung by this have only themselves to blame. Its not hard to ask a performer for a list of songs they plan to play at your venue, its not hard to google those songs and make sure that your not infringing copyright by letting them play, as for the article suggestion this is hurting budding artists I really don't care about cover bands its when the companies try to stamp out original works being played (through asking for a license fee) I'd be worried.

All perfectly legal (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792449)

Except for all of the scammers, everything that BMI, etc. are doing is perfectly legal. If a business makes money because a copyrighted song is played in their establishment, they owe the copyright owner a fee. It is the law and with CD sales plummeting the way they are, if I were a professional musician I would go for all the royalties I can get from anywhere they can legally come from. The only reason that it seems so outrageous right now is that these guys have basically ignored the little guys for so long that everyone became unaware that this was the law. It's not extortion. It is really lousy for the business owners that now they have this extra cost of doing business that they were unaware of but it's really their own fault for not being aware of the laws involved in owning a business.

You need to organize against them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792451)

Start spending the money on private investigators instead of licensing. Find out who these industry spies are. Then publish who they are. Then, next time they get any where near a gig, they can have an accident.

Seriously, the only thing these folks will understand is money & force. Start breaking some of their spies knees, people won't want to be spies for them anymore. Push a couple of them in front of busses, that's a couple industry spies gone and a huge message sent.

Same goes for all these mafia type companies, RIAA tied corporations, SCO, and others. You need to start harming, hurting, and killing. Then these bastards will back off. When their CEO's are afraid for their very lives because they have at least 30% or more percent of the population hunting for their head, they'll stop.

You ever find one of these ass hats that spy on and rat out small coffee shops, make sure he or she never makes it home... or if they do, it's with a few less limbs.

Come on folks, explain to me why these vipers still draw breath?

what next? (1)

ic4x0r (985346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792461)

are they going to start charging street performers? what about when I am playing guitar alone in my room? what if I'm driving in my car and listening to sattelite radio with the windows down?

I wonder how much of these payments actually go to the artists.

way to go, music industry. way to give a hard time to new musicians just starting out, who maybe want to make a career for themselves without signing restrictive record deals, but now maybe they'll have to because these companies are restricting musicians' options and securing their own interests.

How to Kill Free Advertising (2, Insightful)

hellsDisciple (889830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792483)

What's bizarre is that I have often bought CD's on foot of hearing them in bars or even my local supermarket, where they often have weird and wonderful stuff on. Surely the copyright organisations must realise that every shop that turns off its music rather than paying their fees is more lost free advertising?

See? (4, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792487)

Can't you see what's happening? Its been happening for over a decade now.

The music industry is slamming the small music scenes trying to make more people buy CDs because they can't find any local shows. Either that or pay $300 for a ticket to a concert that they're running 300 miles away. They're trying to kill the competition.

And yeah, they pretty much just go through the phone book and pick coffee houses to harass. I would say that if you're a coffee house that has paid and you haven't broken any obvious laws, that you should be entitled to that money back PLUS administrative fees.

What if I walked in, said you were violating a law that you were not, and demanded payment. What's that called again?

Dear Music Corp. Types (1)

Kannaida (1069502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792497)

Stop.

Seriously, just stop. You're out of control, and despite all of the money you're pumping into the "system" you're still hemorrhaging. I'm not saying give away free music, but at this point it's pretty obvious what you're doing isn't working. It's like seeing a person with a lacerated jugular and offering a band-aid. You're losing the battle and being a bad sport in the process. Nobody likes a sore loser, and EVERYBODY hates a sore loser that won't learn from their mistakes.

So stop. Take step back, take your time and get a GOOD look at the land. There's a path to, maybe not victory, but something better than loss ahead of you. You just need to slow down, realize you're being too rash, and take the necessary steps to un-fuck yourselves. You clearly believe you need to get the "phat loot" for whoever it is you represent (despite the fact that you're taking an unfair cut of that). I'm not saying change what you believe, but if you're gonna put up a fight, at least put up an educated one. You need listeners to spend money so you can make money... and in the process somehow you thought treating everyone as guilty before proven innocent was a good battle plan? You don't just need people to give you money, you need people to WILLINGLY give you money. And that means devising a way to make them WANT to spend their money, NOT forcing them to.

Sincerely

Me

It's nice to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792499)

It's nice to know business men's lackies are tracking commonfolk trying to squeeze them into legal binds and hopeful of finincial reapings. The good of your fellow human is gone, long live currency!

Next stop: Little kids birthday parties. (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792503)

10$- You can sing happy birthday to your kid. 20$- You can buy the CD of the latest boy band singing it. 50$- You can buy tickets to the Happy Birthday concert so your kid can hear it live to all the kids that had a birthday that year.

Same old billing scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19792549)

This is just like a billing scam that has been around for as long as I can remember. Scammers simply send phony bills to the accounting departments of as many big companies as possible. If they call you on it, say "Oops, sent the wrong bill to the wrong address. Thanks for letting us know." But a certain percentage will simply pay the bill without asking an questions. Some companies just have an assembly line in accounts payable and they simply don't check everything closely enough.

1. Send bills to cafes, restaurants, and bars for music being played
2. Profit!

Some stupidity, some reasonable... (0, Troll)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792563)

The TV playing music on the TV being counted as a live performance is a joke, as are the speculative calls asking, "Do you ever play gospel music."

That said, I only have limited sympathy for:

The coffeeshop owner who makes more money, selling more drinks because live music brings in more customers when that benefit is gained from using other people's work.

The singer/songwriter who held down gigs by profiting off someone else's work. Despite the self agrandizing title of singer/songwriter, his own compositions are such that, evidently, no one wants to pay to hear them.

I'll be sympathetic to people who weren't in any way trying to profit from using other people's work. If you're selling more coffee or getting paid to perform and have upped your margins (albeit from unprofitable to profitable) by taking someone else's work and not paying, I have a hard time being sympathetic to you when you're finally caught. They're not even getting fined for the [potentially] years they've got away with it already, they're simply being asked, "If you want to keep profiting from someone else's work, you're going to have to start paying them too."

It's not like they're banned from playing live music. They're totally free to have singer/songwriters play their own compositions. Except they don't want to because they can't profit so much from it. Why's it OK for them to profit but not the people, who covered the costs of creating and popularizing that music in the first place, that they're now profiting from?

It's much the same as my line of work: I use PhotoShop daily. It costs a small fortune for private individuals. The flip side is that we can probably make that cost and much more back because we use it. If we aren't willing to pay, there're free alternatives like GimpShop out there. I've got respect for those who pay for the better tools and try to turn a profit. I've got respect for those who cut margins by using the free tools and try to turn a profit. I've got very little respect for those who try to improve their margins, while getting all the same benefits, by pirating PhotoShop. If Adobe releases a new version that they're convinced they need but can't steal anymore... cry me a river for their losing their business model of trying to profit by taking other people's work for free without their consent.

About the only unfairness in this is the perception of unfairness: That you can likely get away with gaming the system for years so when you do finally get held accountable, it seems that much more arbitrary and thus unfair. Then again, is that genuinely unfair or is it just the perception of unfairness and frankly your issue to get over?

The same happens with speeding tickets. I can drive at 65 and never get a ticket. I can drive at 85 and get places faster, 999 out of a thousand, benefiting from that. The one time in a thousand I get caught, it feels so unfair that I now have a couple of hundred bucks in fines to pay off. Yet I don't bitch about it - I get on and pay. If I don't want the risk anymore, I'll stop trying to game the system. If I do try to game the system, I'll suck it up when I do get caught and recognize the unfairness is in my perception, not a system I knowingly flaunted for a long, long time.

So, for something as ridiculous as charging for music played on a TV, yeah, it's a joke. For bitching when you try to make more of a profit (or less of a loss in the case of the people who can't figure out how to run a profitable coffeeshop in the first place) by profiting off someone else's work... suck it up when you're finally asked to pay or move to the free option that, admittedly, won't let you profit in quite the same way anymore.

Why Bother? (1)

chadwik01 (1124433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792571)

It seems that the music industry is spending far too much time making an effort towards stopping trivial actions such as coffee shop music than finding a way to fix more important problems. I'm sure there are ways of embracing and using things such as this, the online guitar lessons and tablature that they're now trying to put an end to, etc. Taking actions such as this will only fuel the fire in most people in my opinion.

Music Industry Shaking Down Coffee Shops (2, Informative)

infiniphonic (657188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792589)

My advice to anyone who this happens to or anybody that you know that this happens to is to immediately defer this to a lawyer. 999 times out of 1000 you will never hear about it again because their claims are fraudulent. Most lawyers should only charge a few bucks (or at least only a fraction of what is being asked as payment) to take a phone call or write a letter to squash this kind of claim like a bug. Lawyers love to qwn these kinds of idiots. I know this because my dad is a lawyer, and he hates these kinds of fraudsters.

Drive-by Musicians. (1)

Rochallor (1125415) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792599)

So, can the RIAA or whoever just send a guy with a guitar to a restaurant, have him play the riff to In A Gadda Da Vida, run like hell, then send them a $7000 bill? Or is that not until next year.

old news but whats the real problem (1)

talledega500 (994228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792639)

This is such old news it just seems like a bully piece in light of the general anger towards the RIAA et al.

This has been going on for years. The fact is the music performance is being used to enhance the business (make more money) and ascap wants their cut. Even if the performer is naive enough to play for free, money is being made off it by the business in the form of being a little nicer than the "other" coffee shop.

I have no problem with paying a small amount to ascap for that. What I do have a problem with is arbitrary fees which cannot be traced to the actual performance rights being exercised and artist payments. Thousands of artists have registered thousands of works with ascap. So did they all just receive .0001 of a penny? That's a joke.

If the fees dont really help the artist then I think they are just there to support ascap and that I dont agree with.

As a more abstract argument I dont think copyright should apply to performance only to printed sheet music. But that battle was lost a thousand years ago so theres no point in fighting it anymore.

Vexatious Litigant (3, Informative)

VariableGHz (1099185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792651)

It sounds like they don't even check whether any copyright violations occurred, they're just sending bills to any business that may or may not have live music.
I don't know if this applies to boilerplate letters like this, but it seems like just randomly trying to threaten small business owners like this is probably prohibited. Take a look here [ca.gov] and here [ca.gov] for information on vexatious litigants.

This is ASCAP (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19792677)


ASCAP has been pulling crap like this for decades.

Ever wonder why restaurants sing some lame-but-original birthday song, instead of "Happy birthday to you...?" ASCAP will sue them otherwise.
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