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Does Your Workplace Music Violate the Law?

Do you play music in your workplace?
Do you have a license to play that music?
With the holiday season upon us, more and more stores, restaurants, and workplaces are playing their favorite holiday music.  That makes now a good time to discuss whether you play music in your workplace and, if so, whether you have a license to play that music.
Businesses have various reasons for playing music throughout their workplaces.  Some use it to entertain customers; some to inspire staff; and, some to disrupt the silence of the workplace.  Right now, as mentioned above, you hear holiday music as part of the holiday spirit.
Technology has made it easier than ever to play music in your workplace.  You can connect your iPhone to a speaker system and play songs that you have downloaded.  You can stream online music through services such as Pandora and Spotify.  You can have satellite radio stations playing recorded music or live performances.
Regardless of which technology you use, you must be certain that you have the authorization to play these songs in your workplace.  Music is copyrighted material.  When you play music for purposes other than your own listening pleasure, you could be violating copyright law.  So while new technologies make it easier to play music, particularly for an audience, these technologies also make it easier to violate the law.

In sum, you may need a license to play those songs that you downloaded for 99 cents each off of iTunes.  Then again, you may not.  There are certain exemptions from this licensing requirement that we can provide advisement on.

Before you play music in your workplace, contact a member of MacDonald Illig’s Emerging Technologies Practice Group to make sure that you are not violating copyright law.
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Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at MacDonald Illig.