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Small businesses playing music likely violate copyright laws

Think about how many times music is played in a restaurant, independently owned coffee shop, local clothing store or other small business. Chances are that it is personally purchased by an employee or streamed from an internet source like Spotify or Apple Music, which likely means that there is no commercial license for playing the music in public.

This means that musicians, composers and owners of the song’s copyright are losing out. According to Forbes, $2.65 billion globally is lost annually because of recorded music played in the background without proper licensing. Here in the U.S., the total is $888 million annually. Not surprisingly, 71 percent of small business owners believe incorrectly that they can use privately purchased music in a store or business without a commercial license. Those who wish to legally stream or play music in their hair salon or other business would need to sign up for a Business-to-Business service with the proper license.

Larger companies already on board

Perhaps better aware of the legal exposure involved, large businesses increasingly require proof that any music broadcasted from a service it uses is legal. They expect exact documentation with the proper payment in a fair and transparent manner. Larger corporations here in the U.S. get more attention from copyright organizations American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), but B2B licensed music services are not that much more expensive than a personal music service.

Owners and creators deserve compensation

It is always important to ensure that individuals and businesses are compensated for the use of their intellectual property. Since 71 percent of small businesses are unaware of the copyright violation, this is a matter of omission. Ideally, raising awareness will lead to compliance. Unfortunately, some businesses or individuals consciously choose not comply with the intellectual property law. In this case, a law firm handling intellectual property is a tremendous asset for protecting the rights of the composers, creators and owners of the intellectual property. An intellectual property law firm can also assist with dispute resolution if you’ve been accused of playing music at your small business without the proper license. 

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