Ethics of performing copyrighted music

Posted In: Performing

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    JackieHarpFan on #214297

    My daughter is a harp student and has been getting some gigs playing background music for local events. I have been told that it might not be legal for her to play music that is not in the public domain if she is a paid performer. I was also told that the venue could possibly be sued. Could someone please inform me about the legalities concerning these paid performances? Also, is it legal to post youtube videos of my daughter playing pieces of music that have a copyright, as long as the videos are free to the public?
    Thank you,

    charles-nix on #214311

    Click on the general licensing tab.

    Neither is illegal. Both _may_ require a license, depending on details and exceptions (like religious services, and “concert” music, which is specifically defined).

    General public performance for profit of current copyright music requires a license by someone. Whether it would ever be enforced against an occasional performer with the small crowds likely is a different question.

    As I understand, if the venue is a business and is hiring you, even as a subcontractor, they are responsible for obtaining the necessary licensing. If you are selling the tickets yourself, then you need the license.

    There are also three licensing organizations in the US: ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. It is not clear to me whether they pass the proper royalties on to each other, or if the license from each only covers the writers/composers who are members of that organization

    Posting videos may require a license because it is both recording and transmission–and those are different licenses.

    This post also covers some of youtube issues:

    Copyright Matters

    What could it hurt to just call one of the organizations and ask?

    Charles Nix

    JackieHarpFan on #214312

    Thank you so much, Charles! I somehow missed this thread in my search and I will look into all this. And I think it’s a great idea to make a call.
    I appreciate you help,

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #215711

    I don’t think either is true. You are free to perform whatever music you want as long as you paid for your copy. Venues are responsible for ASCAP and BMI licensing. You are if you put on a performance for profit at a venue without a license. You are also responsible for submitting a program of what you play, particularly with BMI, as they will pay a composer per performance.

    JackieHarpFan on #215758

    Thank you, Saul! I called BMI a few weeks ago and they said that an individual is not even able to purchase licensing (as an individual). I guess the harpist would have to pay on behalf of the venue?

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