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Subject: ASCAP or BMI Music Licensing
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Author Messages
GeorgeB6
(New Jersey)

Posts:2


11/20/2016 6:15 PM  
Our HOA, a 55+ community of private homes with a clubhouse, has been investigating whether or not we need to pay license fees to ASCAP or BMI. We play music at parties, sourced from mostly CD's or various Internet sources, we have at our clubhouse ballroom 4 to 6 times a year. We are a non-profit corporation as well, just assessing homeowners to cover operating expenses and funding of reserves.

So have any of the other HOA's out there investigated this and what was the outcome.

Thanks
RichardP13


Posts:0


11/20/2016 6:33 PM  
While this is in California, this may be a start.

http://www.davis-stirling.com/Newsletters/2016Newsletters/ClubhouseMusicFees/tabid/4623/Default.aspx
DB8
(Washington)

Posts:15


06/05/2021 12:55 PM  
I found this link to work better for me than the one originally provided....

https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Clubhouse-Music-Licensing
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2021


06/05/2021 1:21 PM  
Interesting question.

Of course this raises the issue of whether the association is "charging a fee to watch or listen to the performance" if the event is being subsidized through assessments. Not at all clear.

It does sound like movie nights require paying the licensing fee since opening the event to the community is beyond "a normal circle of family and its social acquaintances".

I bet the folks who drafted these requirements never thought about HOAs. You may want to run this past your HOA's attorney.


MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:382


06/05/2021 3:29 PM  
Posted By DB8 on 06/05/2021 12:55 PM
I found this link to work better for me than the one originally provided....

https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Clubhouse-Music-Licensing



Actually, this page didn't exist in 2016. It has since replaced the other.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1244


06/05/2021 5:33 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 06/05/2021 1:21 PM
Interesting question.

Of course this raises the issue of whether the association is "charging a fee to watch or listen to the performance" if the event is being subsidized through assessments. Not at all clear.

It does sound like movie nights require paying the licensing fee since opening the event to the community is beyond "a normal circle of family and its social acquaintances".

I bet the folks who drafted these requirements never thought about HOAs. You may want to run this past your HOA's attorney.







What about schools that play movies ,especially private schools? Their cost are covered by tuition. Licensing fees are indeed a tangled web. The intent of the law was to go after for profit proliferating people that set up shop and either sell "pirated' videos or someone that acts like their own cinema. Unfortunately the little guy just out to have a fun little gathering with some little old ladies winds up getting pinched.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3973


06/05/2021 9:04 PM  
Here's another source on the subject - https://songdivision.com/do-i-need-a-music-license-for-my-events/

It does seem silly a non-profit would have to go through this, but I also remember eating at a small Ethiopian restaurant years ago and the owner mentioned she had a tape of Ethiopian music playing in the background and someone from ASCAP happened to be eating there and told her she'd have to stop doing it or paying a licensing fee. Some of the people in my group were attorneys and they noted (as does this article) that it's one thing if you're home and playing it - that's private use, but this was a public setting. I suppose you could argue your clubhouse is intended for residents, but if someone or several people bring in guests that don't live there, it may be considered public and so you'd have to ante up (such is capitalism).

KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1707


06/06/2021 8:04 AM  
George,

You, technically, should have a license to play copywritten music at your venue. This is a technical, but legal, matter and I'm not sure if 4-6 private parties per year are worth the hassle to infringement investigators since there's no money really involved or business being conducted.

It's much like buying a pay per view sports event for the clubhouse at the residential prices ($60) when, in venues accommodating multiple families/general guest audiences, the PPV broadcast license would require a per-head licensing fee to view the event.

I've heard of local pools being audited for music, likely spurred by an annoyed pool user calling them. You can be assessed fines or be threatened to get licensed. Bars and Jukeboxes can have this problem...and do.

AugustinD


Posts:601


06/06/2021 8:24 AM  
From https://goodlaw.legal/hoa-parties-and-copyright-infringement-have-fun-but-be-safe/
:

"Can you play music or movies at an HOA gathering?

In many cases, no. Although the law carves out some exceptions, most community gatherings fall outside that exception. This falls under the umbrella of intellectual property law: music and movies are the intellectual property of their creator, and when you display them for public consumption, you must pay a fee for that “performance.” (17 U.S.C., §101(1).) There are limited exceptions for “no commercial gain” parties, but they’re narrow and confusing—for example, even if you hire a party band to play music and don’t charge an entrance fee, you may still be liable! In one case, a condominium association was found to have violated the law by playing copyrighted songs for a dance in its clubhouse, even when it did not charge a fee to attend. Instead, they asked for a donation, which the court still deemed an admission fee. (Hinton v. Mainlands of Tamarac, 611 F.Supp. 494 (S.D. Fla. 1985).)

Don’t worry, though—it’s still possible to play music and movies at an HOA gathering. You’ll just have to ask for or purchase a license."
HenryD3
(Florida)

Posts:23


06/11/2021 9:37 PM  
Does the court focus on the "commercial" or if there is a profit movtive?
I am thinking about the daily water aerobics in the pool, moving to many band songs?
HenryD3
(Florida)

Posts:23


06/11/2021 9:44 PM  
For those with websites - be very careful of the photographs used. A community newsletter referenced a local news story and used a photograph from the internet that was copyrighted. That was several years ago before the new website and alot of content was public viewable. A letter was received, and the attorney's recommending just paying.
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