Copyrights in the music industry are always carefully guarded thanks to watchdog organizations like ASCAP and BMI scoping out media use of songs. While it might seem that they successfully find every place where a song is playing so songwriters can gain compensation, they may not always know what's going on in local businesses. Many restaurants are starting to use copyrighted recordings to bring familiar music to their customers. What those restaurants don't always realize is that playing that music is illegal if business owners don't license out the recordings.
Should you go after a restaurant for copyright infringement if one is using music copyrighted by your company? It's creating a new debate that the media is finally starting to pick up on.
The Music Industry Going After Restaurants
Even if restaurants used to be able to get away with playing copyrighted recordings, things may be starting to change. The Connecticut Law Tribune recently reported on numerous restaurants in throughout Connecticut having to pay out substantial licensing fees once it was discovered copyrighted recordings were being played illegally. It's a bit of a wake-up call to the rest of locally-owned restaurants nationwide that use existing music over their sound systems as a way to entertain customers.
If your company owns copyrights to specific music, it's something you may want to educate local restaurants on. In the Connecticut Law Tribune piece, it's noted how many of those restaurants simply aren't aware of how using existing music in a restaurant becomes a form of profit. Others, however, knowingly take the risk of using unlicenced music to avoid having to pay a fee.
Are there other ways to help restaurants in your local area gain the knowledge they need so you don't have to delve into copyright infringement litigation?
The Push for More Education
ASCAP is starting to make more of a concerted effort to get restaurants educated on the importance of licenses for playing copyrighted music. They say they prefer this route over pursuing lawsuits, even if lawsuits have to continually be filed year after year. Unless you find out that a restaurant was doing it willfully, a lawsuit could end up costing you more in lawyer fees than any potential damages.
That's why it's important to copyright any music your company owns as soon as it's produced. Even if you end up finding music with expired copyrights as part of your intellectual property (IP) search, you can renew the copyright so you can gain compensation before a restaurant perhaps uses an old recording of that song.
No matter what intellectual property you have in your company, we want you to find it through us at Traklight. We're a service that helps companies locate intellectual property and gets it protected for your future financial welfare. And as much as we try to educate you, it doesn't hurt to educate local businesses around you in making sure they do the right thing to honor your copyrights, patents, or trademarks.