[joe-frank-list] Music royalties & Wiretap

BILLMILOSZ at aol.com BILLMILOSZ at aol.com
Mon Aug 8 13:33:10 PDT 2005

NPR  and the smaller NFCB (Nat'l Federation of Community Broadcasters, 
typically consisting of  non-NPR  public stations) all have "blanket" agreements 
with ASCAP & etc., the stations usually pay some kind of flat fee to the 
appropriate association and the association then pays ASCAP or whoever is handling the 
aggregated intellectual property rights of the composers, performers and 
record labels.  In theory, ASCAP then pays out to the artists, labels, etc., 
according to some kind of formula.

SO, since 95% of Joe's work was original al done for NPR, or NPR affiliate 
KCRW, the various blanket agreements in place should have eliminated Joe's need 
to pay any royalties.

As regards his web site, streaming audio "stations" are supposed to pay fees 
- although Joe's site might fall below a threshold of some kind, his site is 
"on demand" and so maybe there are only a few - maybe 10 or 20 - "songs" that 
get played per day, I don't know Joe's web stats  but I can't imagine it's a 
huge volume.

For CDs purchased from Joe, I'm sure he's supposed to pay royalties but again 
the volume is low, and the royalty would amount to 20 cents per CD or 
something like that, maybe Joe figure is ASCAP or BMI really want to sue him for the 
total of $129.42 they're owed over the years, they can go right ahead.....  
ASCAP's lawyers probably charge $500 an hour, so there's a "point of diminishing 
returns" in terms of using civil courts to collect fees.  This differs, by 
the way, from "cyber piracy" where criminal law is used to punish a certain 
number of "downloaders" to serve as examples so that the P2P community quakes in 
it's boots and stops downloading MP3's for free (like THAT'S ever gonna happen)

If Joe is using other people's works in his live performance, they are 
supposed to be paid royalties unless the performance is FREE. Who actually pays the 
royalties at performances-probably the producer of the "show" - For example, 
Third Coast  Audio Festival, Inc. should have paid a few bucks to ASCAP when 
Joe performed for them in Chicago.

HOWEVER  if, as Joe was producing these things, he wrote the artists or 
copyright holders - and obtained their permission for use of their work in his 
pieces, then all of this is moot.  My guess he didn't / doesn't have sufficient 
staff to track down the rightsholders and handle the correspondence, which might 
sometimes require an attorney to draw up a contract etc.  I bet he just 
originally relied on the right KCRW has to play stuff on the air, based on their 
agreement with ASCAP.

In your case, if you are producing material for a local NPR or NFCB station, 
then talk to the station management and see what they say about the issue.  If 
you are just producing it on your own with hopes of selling ti online or 
streaming it or of giving it to some station down the road, you might be best off 
to try and contact the artists and try to get permission to use the stuff, or 
take your chances that they won't sue you to recover $5.  If you don't have 
rights secured, you may find it hard to get the work played on air, it depends 
on the station.
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