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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default ASCAP; The Royalties Grinch

    NEW MILFORD, CT - When the list of holiday songs for the town's annual carol sing on the Village Green is complete, New Milford may want to check it twice, now that the Town Council has once again refused to comply with a request for the payment of an annual fee from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

    "This is bunk," Roger Szendy, vice chairman of the council, said last April when Mayor Pat Murphy presented the council with a request from the New-York based organization that the town pay an annual fee of $268 to cover the cost of royalties for copyrighted songs performed on town property. Town Councilman Theresa Volinski had wondered if the request were not a form of extortion.

    At its meeting Nov. 13, the mayor presented the council with a second letter from ASCAP-this one, a bit more strident in tone than the correspondence the town received last spring.

    "Simply put, we prefer to avoid litigation," reads the letter, which was sent to the mayor from ASCAP by certified mail. "We urge you to comply with the Federal Copyright Law by obtaining an ASCAP license to perform lawfully the musical works in the ASCAP repertory."

    ASCAP is an association of more than 260,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers, as well as representatives of international performing societies, with a board of directors elected by, and from, its membership. Its members include contemporary musicians such as Madonna, as well as the estates of composers such as Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington.

    On its Web site, ASCAP has listed the top 25 holiday songs over the past five years, culled from all songs performed on radio airways. Among them is Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," which comes in at number five, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," written by Johnny Marks and ranking number 10, "Sleigh Ride," written by Leroy Anderson, which ranks number nine, and, at the top of the list, "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells.

    "Re-recorded and revived by each decade's most popular artists, these holiday favorites illustrate the vital connection between ASCAP music creators and the holiday spirit, which fills the airwaves each year," said ASCAP president and chairman Marilyn Bergman on the Web site's holiday letter. "For Americans and many others around the world, these classic lyrics and melodies are inseparable from the celebration of the holiday season-brightening lives year after year, and serving as a cornerstone of the ASCAP repertory."

    Mr. Anderson (1908-1975) wrote the music for the Christmas classic "Sleigh Ride" during a heat wave in July of 1946, just after he, his wife Eleanor and their children had moved to Woodbury, where Mrs. Anderson continues to live today. Kurt Anderson, one of the couple's two sons, lives in Roxbury.

    "ASCAP is a society organized to collect royalties for performance. That's what they do," said Mrs. Anderson speaking from her Woodbury home Tuesday. "Whatever celebration or festivities are being presented in say, New Milford, or any place they have lights-all those things are paid for, unless some business pays for the platform or whatever is going on. Because the music is an important contribution, I think it should be recompensed, so, yes, I think that's fine," she said of the licensing fee the New Milford Town Council has refused to pay.

    "In New England, that kind of landscape can inspire you to write a song," said Vincent Candilora, ASCAP's senior vice president for licensing, speaking from his Nashville, Tenn., office this week.

    "'What we'd like to do is get one license that's a blanket license that would cover any music used in any municipal-owned facility, and not have to deal with all these different licenses,'" Mr. Candilora recalled a municipal lawyers association telling ASCAP earlier this year, when he spoke about the origin of the municipal licensing agreement. Mr. Candilora said there was an attorney who represented Cleveland, Ohio, which, before ASCAP's single licensing fee went into effect, maintained four different licensing agreements with the association.

    Mr. Candilora said ASCAP met with the International Municipal Lawyers Association about four times over the course of a year before coming up with the concept of blanket licensing fees for municipalities based on population numbers. The lowest population category is for municipalities with 50,000 residents or fewer, for which the rate this spring was $268. The highest category includes cities with populations of at least 501,000. There, according to Mr. Candilora, the annual fees begin at more than $50,000.

    "We certainly started in those cities that already had a number of licenses in place," said Mr. Candilora. "[The licensing agreement] gave them pretty much what they were asking for, and then we worked top to bottom in terms of revenues. In 2005 to 2006, we find ourself going after the small municipalities."

    Last spring, Mr. Candilora said his office had received signed licensing agreements from 51 or 52 Connecticut municipalities, among them Greenwich, Watertown, Trumbull, Stratford, Rocky Hill, Norwich, New London, New Canaan, Newington and Monroe. Today, according to Mr. Candilora, the number of Connecticut municipalities that have agreed to pay ASCAP's licensing fee has risen to 62-out of 169 total-with the fee, which rises with the Consumer Price Index, now at $280.

    "We are not pursuing any litigation against any municipality," said Mr. Candilora Tuesday. "Quite frankly, the dollar value of the music used in most smaller municipalities ... we're not going to sue people over matters like that. [The towns] should just do the right thing-pay them something. ASCAP is owned by the composers and the authors. We're not-for-profit. We distribute 88 cents of every dollar we receive in royalties."

    The monies ASCAP distributes will not include any from New Milford, because the Town Council, which tabled any action on the licensing agreement in April, chose without discussion not to revisit the matter in November.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by voivod View Post
    "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,"
    and I thought I was the only one writing song-titles whilke drunks :P:PD

  3. #3
    Sinner's Swing! the_atomic_punks_rule's Avatar
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    Better yet, did the town download the songs?????

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    It's a necessary evil, unfortunately. Both ASCAP and BMI formed to protect the rights of songwriters, who are routinetly shit on by the big businesses that distribute/exploit their work. They're looking out for artists, and quite frankly there aren't a lot of people/organizations that do that.

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewThomas.net View Post
    It's a necessary evil, unfortunately. Both ASCAP and BMI formed to protect the rights of songwriters, who are routinetly shit on by the big businesses that distribute/exploit their work. They're looking out for artists, and quite frankly there aren't a lot of people/organizations that do that.
    Thank you. Doesn't matter if you are a bricklayer or a songwriter, everyone is entitled to just compensation for proffered work. If the council does not want to pay for the tunes, yet does so anyway, they should have their asses sued for compensation.

    Fuck'em. I'm certain the council would bitch if their paychecks were withheld.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
    George Bernard Shaw

  6. #6
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    ASCAP cracking down again.....

    ------------------------------

    A Seattle restaurant is among more than two dozen venues swept up in a music-licensing crackdown for allegedly failing to pay royalties to play copyrighted music in public.

    Without a special license, owners of bars, clubs and restaurants could be sued for playing any one of 8 million recorded songs, even from their own CDs.

    The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) says that equates to performing copyrighted music without permission, and the group is going after local businesses that haven't paid them for the privilege.

    On Monday, ASCAP said it had filed 26 separate infringement actions against nightclubs, bars and restaurants in 17 states. Among them is a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle against the Ibiza Dinner Club downtown.

    The group sued to spread the word that performing such music without permission is a federal offense, said Vincent Candilora, ASCAP senior vice president for licensing.

    On Tuesday, Ibiza owner Abi Eshagi said he had not received information from ASCAP regarding a lawsuit and insisted his restaurant did not violate any rules.

    ASCAP says that besides broadcasting songs over the radio, television and Internet, the definition of performing copyrighted music includes playing it "any place where people gather," with the exception of small private groups. For restaurants, that includes playing songs as background music, by a DJ and even music-on-hold over phone lines, according to ASCAP's Web site.

    "As long as it's [played] outside a direct circle of friends and family, it is considered a public performance," Candilora said. "A musical composition is somebody's property."

    ASCAP alleged that a DJ at Ibiza played three copyrighted pop songs without paying a licensing fee, which Candilora calculated would have cost Ibiza $979 a year, considering the size of the venue and the type of performance.

    "I think it's absurd," said Eshagi. "Not only DJs have bought that music, I also subscribe to an online music-use service, and I'm also paying the cable company for the same thing. I don't know how many times we have to pay for a song."

    ASCAP, whose 300,000 members include such artists as Coldplay, Dr. Dre, Avril Lavigne and Elvis Costello, has investigators working in cities across the country to identify new restaurants, bars, theme parks or other establishments where music is used, Candilora said.

    They visit venues to find out what songs are being played, then check to see whether the owner paid for a license.

    While many business owners may not be aware of it, such legal action is becoming common, said Eric Steuer, creative director of Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that has been critical of current copyright laws and supports alternative licensing plans.

    The hardball legal tactics resemble when the recording industry sues students, Steuer said.

    "What I don't think many venue owners — nor probably the majority of DJs — understand is that almost all of the music that they play requires a performance license," Steuer said. "I think that there's a misunderstanding that because music is 'indie' or not widely known, that it's OK to play."

    Many DJs get music free from record labels so they can play and promote it, Steuer added. "I'm sure that they'd never imagine that they're committing a federal offense by playing this stuff without paying for the right to play it."

    ASCAP is seeking up to $30,000 in damages per infringement from Ibiza. Candilora said the group has tried for two years to get the restaurant to comply with its requests.

    Eshagi said he plans to fight. He said he was contacted by an ASCAP representative by phone and had asked the group to send a list of songs they claimed were infringed.

    Eshagi said he told ASCAP he pays for two music-subscription services.

    "I don't really know what is the basis for [a lawsuit]," he said.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  7. #7
    Romeo Delight Strat God's Avatar
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    As a full member of ASCAP who has recieved royalty checks, I side with ASCAP to protect the rights of those who's copywritten music is used by others. Nothing new here.......
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    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Now I'm confused. What happens when a bar/pub/restaurant plays the radio over it's public address system? How about the jukebox? I honestly never remember the owner of my local pub mentioning "Oh, I need to get that annual check off to ASCAP this week."
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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  9. #9
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    It's one thing to make sure artists get paid when their music is sold, but come on, nickle and diming establishments who use music for ambiance?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy007 View Post
    It's one thing to make sure artists get paid when their music is sold, but come on, nickle and diming establishments who use music for ambiance?
    That's what I was thinking too. When a kindergarten class sings Christmas songs for a holiday concert, are they obligated to pay the artist(s)? What about a high school marching band playing a song in a Thanksgiving Day parade? Or if I was singing "Sleigh Bells" while I walked down a public street?

    I'm all for people getting paid but, once again, somebody has decided to take it too far.

    If someone publicly performs a song that was written by another artist and charges those who hear it (VH covering "Won't Get Fooled Again" for example) I could understand why The Who may want to be compensated. When it's a town having a holiday celebration, give me a friggin' break! Of course even if they avoid this suit, they'll probably be sued by townpeople pissed because it's a gov't endorsed celebration of a religious holiday.

    Can I sue the American Government because they've allowed too many frivolous lawsuits and it has caused mental anguish?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefcraig View Post
    Now I'm confused. What happens when a bar/pub/restaurant plays the radio over it's public address system? How about the jukebox? I honestly never remember the owner of my local pub mentioning "Oh, I need to get that annual check off to ASCAP this week."
    Yep, they still have to pay. Even if the bar owns the jukebox, and every CD in it. Which means they have paid the publishing royalties on every single disc already. And that's bullshit. If they can get away with that, then they could (theoretically) start charging you each time you play a CD in your own home or car.
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  12. #12
    Atomic Punk jimmy812's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vh resurrection View Post
    That's what I was thinking too. When a kindergarten class sings Christmas songs for a holiday concert, are they obligated to pay the artist(s)? What about a high school marching band playing a song in a Thanksgiving Day parade? Or if I was singing "Sleigh Bells" while I walked down a public street?

    I'm all for people getting paid but, once again, somebody has decided to take it too far.

    If someone publicly performs a song that was written by another artist and charges those who hear it (VH covering "Won't Get Fooled Again" for example) I could understand why The Who may want to be compensated. When it's a town having a holiday celebration, give me a friggin' break! Of course even if they avoid this suit, they'll probably be sued by townpeople pissed because it's a gov't endorsed celebration of a religious holiday.

    Can I sue the American Government because they've allowed too many frivolous lawsuits and it has caused mental anguish?
    Nice post. I was thinking the same thing about the kids singing songs at holiday concerts.

    Too many people have too many of their greedy hands out. Enough of this madness.

    It's amazing how much money we waste on bullshit taxes, bullshit fees, and now bullshit royalties.
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    Atomic Punk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strat God View Post
    As a full member of ASCAP who has recieved royalty checks, I side with ASCAP to protect the rights of those who's copywritten music is used by others. Nothing new here.......
    Steve Vai just called, he wants his style returned to him at once before it's damaged any further...
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

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    Am I right in assuming here that those decrying ASCAP for their fees and legal actions are they themselves not musicians for living?

  15. #15
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewThomas.net View Post
    Am I right in assuming here that those decrying ASCAP for their fees and legal actions are they themselves not musicians for living?
    Hardly the point, Andrew. You'll note in my above post from months back that I believe in the follow through of payment to artists. What I find questionable is the notion that a bar or club already paying yearly license fees to ASCAP should now face a $30,000 lawsuit (and naturally have to hire lawyers at further expense) when if ASCAP had been doing the job properly in the first place nothing would have happened.

    If one can download a song for 99 cents, one should be able to purchase a blanket package of a handful of tunes to be used in a municiple Christmas pageant. It's pointless and ultimately self defeating for a governing body to go after end users after the fact. Look at the vilification of the RIAA after the pursuit of grandmothers and teenagers for downloading music.

    If the album I released several years ago took off, or if an act/artist used my work from it today, of course fair compensation is expected, it is enforced via BMI or ASCAP. After all, the protection of an artist via exploitation must be enforced. Yet protection from the same sort of exploitation of an end user is to be expected as well.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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