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Old 03-19-2014, 10:55 AM   #1
David Osorio
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ASCAP emails about music in gym

Has anyone else been getting emails from ASCAP (WFS) about buying rights for the music you play at the gym? We've gotten several and so far ignored them. Short of them coming in and listening to our playlists and comparing it to the artists they represent, I dont see how they could actually take legal action here. It sounds like BS but they're pretty insistent and are asking for us to sign a license agreement and pay about a grand or so. I plan on continuing to ignore them

Thoughts anyone?

Here is the most recent email....

Having reviewed ASCAPís file on your business, I see that we have contacted you on many occasions regarding your need to obtain permission to perform copyrighted musical works publicly. We have also offered you an ASCAP license agreement that would allow you to perform our membersí works lawfully.

More than 487,129 composers, authors and publishers of Americaís most popular music choose to license their music through ASCAP. Our licenses enable thousands of businesses like yours to perform any of the millions of copyrighted musical works in the ASCAP repertory, providing our licensees with a convenient and economical means to complying with the U.S. Copyright Law.

Under the Copyright Law, unauthorized performances of copyrighted musical works constitute copyright infringement for which the courts may award damages that generally range from $750 to $30,000 for each musical work infringed. The court may also require an infringer to pay the costs of the lawsuit, including our membersí legal expenses. Therefore, it makes good business sense to obtain an ASCAP license agreement.

I hope you will agree that obtaining an ASCAP license is far preferable to the potential ramifications of performing copyrighted music without proper authorization. If you share our desire to resolve this matter amicably, I invite you to contact me at the toll free number listed below so that we can discuss a mutually acceptable solution. You can also reach me by fax or by electronic mail.

If you or your attorney desire additional information about ASCAP or our repertory, you need only write us and we will answer your questions promptly. Finally, I must again remind you that until you are licensed, unauthorized performances of our members' copyrighted musical compositions continue to constitute infringements of copyright under the Copyright Law.
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Old 03-19-2014, 12:03 PM   #2
Dustin Gyurina
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

That's crap. What the hell is their definition of "performing". I don't think it should constitute hitting the play button on your iPod. Is your music in a "public" area or are you in a members only private business. If your playing music purchased on iTunes, FM radio, or streaming from pandora or other music streaming websites then ASCAP already got their licensing money. I'm a working DJ and I pay for music. I'm legally able to "play" this music in a mix even in a public setting. The limitation of DRM (digital rights management) is I cannot redistribute or re-sell music even if it has been remixed.

I think the key here is weather or not your considered by law as a public place of business. The ASCAP tries to sell licenses to say a clothing store or restaurant where the general public is allowed. Even then it depends on the music source. Is it illegal to play FM radio in public?

I think you should confirm these points and overall your legal stance on this, then please continue to ignore them.
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Old 03-19-2014, 01:37 PM   #3
Josh Groves
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

It is a fact that many businesses are breaking the law unknowingly and playing copyrighted music without the proper rights. The easiest way around this is to just get a Pandora business account as most gyms I've been in are Pandora already (several likely use a Pandora One account, which is just for personal use and won't cover ya bum if the ASCAP comes knocking).

If you want to use your own playlists, you'll need to get the ASCAP license (and potentially other groups depending on who owns the music) unless you have a lawyer that can convince the courts otherwise.

Pandora has a good reference on licensing: http://www.dmx.com/pandora/licensing/ (WFS)

The above link is part of the Pandora for business website, so have a good look around. There may be other options out there beside Pandora that could fit your need better, but I'm not privy to what they are.

EDIT: regarding FM radio in the above post, you can play that just fine without worrying about licensing since it is music that is already broadcasting to the public, from what I've read previously on the issue.
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:12 PM   #4
Chuck Golden
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

How would they know unless you're posting videos to social media with the music going in the background? And if that's how their finding out, why not just stop posting videos that do have music playing in the background?
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Old 03-20-2014, 05:59 AM   #5
David Osorio
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

Thanks for the feedback everyone. We are not playing the music in a public place and we primarily use Pandora and Spotify pay accounts. I'll look into the pandora business version and see if spotify has something similar. Perhaps worth upgrading just in case.

I don't appreciate ASCAPs scare tactics (that's probably the 10th novel email they've sent me) and again, short of them walking in and taking notes on what they're hearing I don't see how they'd actually impose a fine.

I was also curious if they were targeting a bunch of CrossFit affiliates in general too.
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Old 03-20-2014, 06:33 AM   #6
Tommy Alfinito
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

If you use the search function you will find multiple threads on ASCAP but nothing concrete in any of them.

They do seem to be targeting Crossfits. It also seems like the rep is compensated for getting places to pay.

Some people say the Pandora business account works while others do not, so I don't have an answer there. I do remember 1 guy saying that to ASCAP it depends on how many speakers and such you have, so he changed his setup for either a cheaper fee or to avoid it at all.

Search around and you should get some more information.
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Old 03-20-2014, 11:03 AM   #7
Michael Stoll
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

David - Search for "ASCAP" on this forum, there are about six threads that cover it. Bottom line: you are actually a public place, they have the weight of the law behind them, and while they definitely use "scare tactics", if they choose to prosecute, you will lose - and that can be VERY costly, as they collect back license fees, and you'll probably have to hire a lawyer.

That being said, we're still flying under the radar. When they do find us, we'll either do the Pandora Business account or start playing local DJs off of Soundcloud (which is still probably semi-illegal, but harder to prosecute as it can be attributed to "original" work that is given to the gym for free).

As to YouTube, they use some pretty solid filters (think along the lines of the "Shazam" app) to screen ALL videos for copywrited music playing in the background. My 13.3 video submission had a Beastie Boys remix going on in the background, and THAT got flagged. Glad I didn't make it to regionals, or HQ wouldn't have been able to verify my WOD, because YouTube wouldn't allow sharing!
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Old 03-20-2014, 12:36 PM   #8
Mike Doehla
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

This is absolutely insane. I cannot believe they want people to pay to play music in a gym.
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Old 03-20-2014, 01:20 PM   #9
Josh Groves
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Doehla View Post
This is absolutely insane. I cannot believe they want people to pay to play music in a gym.
Change the context and it doesn't sound so insane.

How would you feel if another gym or a personal trainer was using the workouts you spent your blood, sweat and tears programming without paying you for the rights to use it for their own commercial profit? You'd want your cut, wouldn't you (I would)?

You (and other affiliates) are providing the music as part of a paid service to customers and the people who provide that music want their cut, which is received via licensing for business use.
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Old 03-20-2014, 01:28 PM   #10
Eric Montgomery
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Re: ASCAP emails about music in gym

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Doehla View Post
This is absolutely insane. I cannot believe they want people to pay to play music in a gym.
Check out the cost of DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket for your home. Then ask your local sports bar how much they have to pay for it, and prepare to cringe. Same deal with getting a UFC pay per view event in your home vs. in a bar.

Bottom line--there's a big difference between what you pay for personal use vs. what you pay for access in a commercial setting, so there's plenty of precedent for what the ASCAP is doing.
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