Hi. I am a musician who teaches people how to play guitar. I have a website that I advertise my services on and I have recordings of me playing songs by about a dozen popular artists, Beatles, David Bowie, Metallica, Green Day.... Some recordings are complete, start-to-finish versions, some are excerpts. A local competitor of mine called and threatened to turn me in to an ASCAP or BMI agent. What should I do?
State/Country relating to Question: Arizona
Looked at ASCAP and NMPA websites. I also took down the recordings while I figure things out.
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Well, it sounds a little like blackmail to me, but you do have a legal obligation to pay performance royalties. Nevertheless, neither ASCAP nor BMI are going to sue you for infringement, as they have no right to do so. Chances are, that if your site is relatively small, the artists aren't going to take any action either. However, it is always a good idea to remain in compliance to avoid being shut down and defending lawsuits.
Chances are that your competitor has not been paying performance royalties, either.
If you need more information, just let me know.
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Yes, my site is small; I make about $20K per year, net. I don't sell and people can't download the recordings either-- they are just there for demonstrations of my abilities.
Why do ASCAP and BMI not have a right to sue me for infringement?
They do not own the publishing rights to any music. They just collect and distribute.
Is there any difference in licensing fees or rules between having an excerpt and having a full-length song up on a website for such a demonstration?
They are performance rights societies.
If you need further information, just let me know.
If I have answered your question, please remember to click "ACCEPT."
Just notice your last question.
Both types require payment, sorry.
Thank you. It sounds by your answer that, in order to be in strict compliance I must pay licensing fees but because I am such small potatoes that I am not at a likely risk of action by anyone for having this material on my site. Is that a fair summary of what you've said?
It's not much. If you are afraid that paying the proper royalties might put you out of business, you could pass the fee along to your customers, so it would not impact your botXXX XXne. Explaining what the fee is and why it is being charged will help you gain respect in the industry.
Thanks, I appreciate it. How do I contact you if I need to follow up?
I cannot advise you not to pay the performance fees. While you are likely under the radar, certain publishers are notorious for going after as many sites as they can.
You are more than welcome to contact me if you have any future issues or concerns.
No, I understand that. I was just assessing what you thought the risk was. And how do I contact you?
I'll check my JustAnswer profile link and leave it for you when I post your feedback.
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