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Right where you say “bars, restaurants, wedding DJs, and any other business which exposes their patrons to copyrighted material”, you are indicating business usage.
Part15 isn’t quite like a bar, restaurant, wedding DJ or etc. All of those *businesses* have a definite clientele and get a clear financial benefit from playing music for them. That’s why they pay royalties. Part15, as you are well aware, includes calculators, computers, tv sets, switching power supplies, all kinds of stuff.. So first off, saying that there is a copyright claim (via whatever agency one might use as an example) that is appropriate against *all* part15 device would be more than ridiculous.
Now if someone is running a *business* which utilizes playing copyrighted music (or other copyrighted audio program material), then logically they *might* be liable to pay royalties even though they do it via part15 devices. But it seems to me that the critical point would be that they’d be a business with a definite demonstratable listener base. I don’t know, it’d take a court and/or congress to decide that for sure.
But to give an example of what I’m talking about.. Say you have a small wet bar in your rec room at home. You buy an old jukebox or make a replica from a kit or old schems. As I’ve ever understood it, you wouldn’t be liable to pay royalties for putting records you’ve bought in it and playing them. Not even if you play it loud and your neighbors can kinda hear it. Not even if you take it into the back yard when you’re having a cookout and you have a dozen guests.
On the other hand, take that same jukebox and set it in actual business bar or restaurant or coffee-shop, you definitely would need to pay royalties.
See the difference there?
It certainly is possible that some community stations could be liable to pay royalties whether they are done via radio, wire, laser beams or whatever.. The logic has always been that if you have a business, then you receive a definite benefit to your business from playing music and if it’s copyrighted, royalties are owed.
Internet stream stations are not a viable comparison or model for part 15 stations either when it comes to royalties.. The reason internet streams were decided to be liable for royalties is that it’s very easy with an internet stream for the listener to get a CD quality copy of the song (with the right file format and bit rate on the stream). So technically it’s not just a royalty, it is a high potential for bootlegging. Recording music off a regular radio station isn’t generally considered bootlegging because it’s not a “quality copy”. Nobody in their right mind would pay for it. But you remember the big stink that came up over DAT recorders? LOL So even if an internet stream station doesn’t have advertisers, charge their listeners to listen or etc, the record companies feel they stand to lose money because copies of the music can be being made. Not all that different from years ago when RIAA agents used to check county fairs for people with booths selling bootleg cassettes and 8-tracks.
Whether it was appropriate or not with the internet stream stations is a matter for debate, but for the sake of this discussion it’s academic.. The point I’m making is it’s a different line of logic that also really shouldn’t be applied to part15.
A logical model for ASCAP/BMI/etc to follow would be to stick to the “business” definition and work on getting that more precise so they wouldn’t have to come up with some new rule if people use a wire network, light beam, or somebody figures out how to modulate gamma rays or something..
To be honest, they’re an outdated concept anyway, from the time when it was nearly impossible for artists to self-produce and market their own works.. Back then, if you didn’t get in with some record company then you pretty much didn’t get heard. The RIAA (for example) is not some independent organization founded to protect artists. LOL It still consists of only about 200 “labels” owned by a couple major recording corporations. Don’t fall for the hype, do some research.
But in any case.. They certainly don’t represent everybody, and there are quite a few independent artists out there that are interested in getting their music heard by anybody (and any radio station at all looks good in their promo packs when they’re trying to get gigs). There’s quite a lot of music in public domain or available via creative commons (depending on the use you want to make of the music). You can also of course record your own songs or get permission from freinds to record their jam sessions. All that is not much help for those who want to run a “Top Hits” type format perhaps, but certainly of interest to those of us doing alternative programming.