ASCAP Issues 29 Infringement Charges

On Monday, March 24, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) filed 29 separate infringement actions against entertainment venues in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Each business has been charged with publicly performing copyrighted musical works of ASCAP members without obtaining the necessary license from the organization to do so.


On Monday, March 24, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) filed 29 separate infringement actions against entertainment venues in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Each business has been charged with publicly performing copyrighted musical works of ASCAP members without obtaining the necessary license from the organization to do so.

ASCAP reached out to each of the businesses in question before taking legal action, but these efforts were largely ignored; every venue continued the unauthorized performances, resulting in the infringement suits. ASCAP protects the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works, and any business or establishment that wants to perform these works publicly must obtain a license from ASCAP.

With these infringement actions, ASCAP hopes to “heighten awareness among music users and the public that it is a federal offense to perform copyrighted music without permission,” according to Vincent Candilora, ASCAP Senior VP of Licensing. He noted that ASCAP “has a responsibility to its 315,000 members to ensure they are adequately compensated for their hard work.”

Candilora also noted that recording artists nowadays aren’t “making much at all on album sales; the public performance of their music is really the only way to make any money.” While experts foresee a jump in the sale of digital product in the coming months, the recording industry has taken severe blows in recent years due to declining album sales. Revenue for performing rights organizations, however, is at an all-time high. Just last year, revenues of New-York based ASCAP jumped 10 percent (to $863 million), and revenues of Nashville-based competitor Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) jumped 7 percent (to $839 million).

According to Candilora, these actions are only fair; “music is a vital part of the total service that businesses offer… and by accepting an ASCAP license, business owners can legally use music in ASCAP’s popular and ever-increasing repertory. The songwriter is in essence the smallest of small businesses.”

Any business that wishes to use copyrighted music may acquire a license from ASCAP, which allows access to the entire ASCAP database, including over 8.5 million songs and compositions. Nearly 90 percent of fees from these licenses go directly to royalty payments; the small balance goes to cover ASCAP’s operating costs, which are the lowest of any performing rights organization in the world.

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