Licensed music isn’t free

June 20, 2010

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RE “PAY to play: Strict enforcement of copyrights jeopardizing live music in small venues" (Page A1, June 9): When you open a business, it’s your responsibility to know the laws and to obey them. Businesses are not allowed to play music from performance rights organizations ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC without a license.

I make my living as a songwriter. I am usually just the writer, not the singer, on surveyed performances. The songs belong to me. I trust ASCAP to enforce the rules vigorously. My family depends on my quarterly checks, both domestic and foreign.

When Disney goes after a preschool for painting its exterior walls with licensed characters without permission, I am glad. Those characters belong to Disney, not the preschool.

When I read in your article that cafe proprietor Lorraine Carboni ended her music program, I think that she must not have wanted it very badly. Am I supposed to feel sympathy for her because the representative from the performance rights organization, or PRO, needed to go to charm school?

When Magret Gudmundsson says, of the PROs, “They ruined it,’’ I feel sorry for her, not because she was required to obey the law, but because she thought so little of her town that she wouldn’t pay the license fee for her cafe’s open mike. Every for-profit business that plays licensed music benefits financially from playing it. They pay for their heating and air conditioning. I don’t hear them saying, “Give me my utilities for free because we’re so small and we do so much good.’’

Dave Kinnoin,
South Pasadena, Calif.

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