Copyright Laws: Is Your Business Compliant?

Senior LivingDo you play music or movies in common areas of your senior living community? Chances are you have and you may be violating federal copyright laws. If you have received a letter from a company claiming you are violating federal copyright law, think twice before immediately pitching these letters as they may not be junk mail. Playing music or movies in a commercial environment without an appropriate license can end up in a lawsuit against your business.

BMI, SESAC or ASCAP are performing rights societies that protect and ensure that singer and songwriters are compensated for their copyrighted work. Some examples where playing music can be considered a public performance that requires a license are:

  • Live performances
  • Karaoke
  • Recorded music played in the building
  • Social events where there is background music
  • Exercise or aerobic classes

When it comes to movies, an “Umbrella License” from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) allows the playing of movies intended for personal or private use only, such as DVDs and streamed or downloaded videos. In the past, independent living communities were the only communities required to have an Umbrella License from MPLC whereas assisted living, skilled nursing and other similarly licensed facilities were exempt; however, under a new agreement in 2016, all communities need a license. If you plan to show a movie in common areas, you will need an umbrella license.

Here are some tips for navigating the licensure process:

  • Ensure that the right numbers are being used to calculate your fee.
  • Double check that you are not double-paying.
  • Take your time to understand what you’re signing up for.

Before you assume it is junk mail, revert back to the letter you received from one of these societies. Based on what you have read above, is it a legitimate letter? These tips are being offered by our  AssuredPartners NL Senior Living agents.

Source: McKnight’s Senior Living

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