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Public Performance Right

The Public Performance Right is the exclusive right the U.S. Copyright Law gives to the creator of a musical work or other copyrighted material to authorize the use of the work in public. Every time a song is performed on a local cable program, cable programming service or broadcast over a radio or television station, there is a public performance that requires the authorization of the copyright holder. Without this authorization, which must be obtained from the copyright holder or its representative, there is an infringement of copyright. Businesses such as TV and radio stations use music everyday, as do restaurants, health clubs, theme parks, or corporations. Whether it is a bar hiring bands to attract customers to their establishment or a gym playing music for their members in aerobics classes, businesses need to obtain a performing rights license for each song used even if the music is only for their employee’s enjoyment. It does not matter how the song is performed. Be it a live band, radio, CD or tape, the music user must have the permission of the song’s owner to perform it in their place of business. Performance royalties typically will be collected and distributed by ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.

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