[Libs-Or] Royalty Payments for Library Programs

Jim Scheppke jim.b.scheppke at state.or.us
Mon Jul 27 21:43:50 PDT 2009

Dear Colleagues: You may recall that the Director of the Springfield Public
Library sent out a question to libs-or about threats his City Attorney
received from BMI about performing songs at library programs without a
performance fee. I forwarded this to the ALA Washington Office and received
this reply from Carrie Russell. You all need to get legal advice from your
own attorneys, but it is helpful to hear the ALA legal counsel¹s opinion
that libraries are exempt from any royalty payments. Here is the information
from ALA ... --> Jim

------ Forwarded Message
From: Carrie Russell <crussell at alawash.org>
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 11:15:03 -0400
To: Emily Sheketoff <esheketoff at alawash.org>, <jim.b.scheppke at state.or.us>
Conversation: [Libs-Or] Library programs and music licensing
Subject: RE: [Libs-Or] Library programs and music licensing

Hello Emily and Jim:
I discussed this issue with our legal counsel, and we believe that the
public library is exempt from royalty payments under US Code Title, 17 (the
copyright law), Section 110 (4).
4) performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work otherwise than in a
transmission to the public, without any purpose of direct or indirect
commercial advantage and without payment of any fee or other compensation
for the performance to any of its performers, promoters, or organizers, if‹
(A) there is no direct or indirect admission charge; or
(B) the proceeds, after deducting the reasonable costs of producing the
performance, are used exclusively for educational, religious, or charitable
purposes and not for private financial gain, except where the copyright
owner has served notice of objection to the performance under the following
(i) the notice shall be in writing and signed by the copyright owner or such
owner¹s duly authorized agent; and
(ii) the notice shall be served on the person responsible for the
performance at least seven days before the date of the performance, and
shall state the reasons for the objection; and
(iii) the notice shall comply, in form, content, and manner of service, with
requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation;
For the public library, subsection A applies.
One suggestion I have is that you no longer advertise the music that you
plan on playing at library programs on your web site.
Our legal counsel said that this attempt to collect royalties is really
unbelievable, and that if ³ASCAP/BMI come knocking, they should be told to
jump in the lake!²
If I can provide more information, please let me know.
Carrie Russell, OITP
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