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Using copyrighted music in the workplace

By dirkus ·
Our company is considering creating a music database for our employees. This music database would work like this: An employee could bring in a 'legal' copy of music (CD media) and give it to one of us in the IT department to verify it as an original, non-burnt copy, compress it to mp3 format, and upload it to the database. Using Windows Media Player, a user could then go into the music library database and listen to the uploaded music. The general idea being any user could add legal music to the database for any employee to listen to. Obviously, our concern is the liability the company would have since the data would be on company property. Since all this music sharing would be with legal music, how would this be any different than playing a CD over a company-wide stereo system for all to hear? Your thoughts.

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Commercial use

by TheChas In reply to Using copyrighted music i ...

If you were to play a CD over the company PA system, you would have an issue with the US copyright law.

All commercial playing of copyrighted music is covered by various laws in the US.
While not the RIAA, another group goes around to check if companies are making commercial use of music.
If so, royalty fees need to be paid.

Personally, I don't see how your plan would be any different than the various file sharing services.

In order to avoid any hassle from the RIAA, you would need to:

Maintain a legal purchased copy of the music on site.

Make it IMPOSSIBLE for ANY user to save the files locally, or burn them to a CD.

Block ANY access to the files from outside the company.

Aside from the legal issues, have you considered how this plan would affect your network and server traffic?
Unless the network has very few data packets, setting up a music library will slow down normal network traffic.

Bottom line, I would not want to take the risk, or endure the hassle of a company operated music library.

Chas

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Technically illegal but a lawful way exists

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Using copyrighted music i ...

Technically you are making and unlawful copy and then playhing the music in a commercial envireonment, both unlwaful.

However, if you got permission from the copyright holders to do this it becomes lawful. In most radio stations today they do NOT play the CDs records etc, they play a locally stored copy. They keep a record of what is played and thens end that to RIAA (here it is APRA) on a regular basis with a copyright performance fee.

Thus it should be possible to approach RIAA/APRA with a proposal to create this database and to have it accessable only in local playback mode and come to an agreement about howmuch to pay each month.

Even playing the local radio station loud at work can put you in violation of the commercial use copyright laws. Low volumne for personal use of a comemrcial station is lawful, loud for the whole office is not.

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Safeway

by john_wills In reply to Technically illegal but a ...

My dentist in Columbia SC used to have a local radio station playing in the waiting room. Was he breaking the law? He thought he would be if he played his own CDs for the patients, although his own CDs would have been nicer to hear, being free of advertisements and moronic DJ remarks. Perhaps such fer is why Safeway plays the "Safeway Radio Network" in its supermarkets, so it can be sure it is paying all the right fees.

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Radio violation - safeway: you got it

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Safeway

Playing a commercial radio in a work environment louder than needed for just you to hear will put you in violation of the copyright laws, playing it for customers in the waiting room will get you a heavy fine when caught. It is possible to get a special low cost licence from the copyright people to allow you to do this.

In Australia the organisation is called APRA (Australian Performing Rights Association) and they actively monitor the use of music in comemrcial environments.

When I was working in Nowra NSW in 1996 a major local court case revolved around a medium sized local business that had the radio playing as background music for clients. APRA investigated and took them to court for copyright violations. The law allows for a fine of upto $A20,000 and APRA's legal costs. The business went belly up due to a A$10,000 fine and A$80,000 APRA legal costs. All for not getting a $500 pa licence to have the radio playing.

Safeway, and many other stores, have their own radio station/music etc to avoid breaching these laws. It is because of these laws that Musac made a fortune in the 1960's to 1980's.

Also having the radio playing for people waiting on the telephone requires the same sort of licence as well. That is why most people have those rotten bell tone things as they come on the phones pre-licenced.

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The library would need protected from copy

by JimHM In reply to Using copyrighted music i ...

You would have to create a way in which employees could not copy any of the music from the library to their local machines - or to a CD Burner...

There will be your challenge

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O.K.

by jkaras In reply to Using copyrighted music i ...

Personally I think it is a great idea that your workplace is considering this. Expanding musical tastes to others while keeping the workers happy could improve productivity. I think as long as it is only for local download and not copying is the only concern. I cannot speak lawfully whether the others have actual valid points or not, but trust they are correct. As long as the employees buy their music and not copy it for others, or is not in a public place that could generate money from customers it should be fine. (funny when I'm in the mall and the stores are playing music it's usually from a cd player not a music station?) People are going to listen to music or radio during their long day, why not make it fun?

I am curious how you are going to reduce the network traffic though.

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Legal vs illegal copies

by generalist In reply to Using copyrighted music i ...

You might want to check copyright law on this.

An employee making a copy for their own personal use is legally recognized as 'fair use'.

Making a copy for use by others in a company database would be considered illegal because the company itself would be the 'other' entity and copyright law frowns on that.

Now if you donated the original CD to the company or if the company bought a copy, then you would be on more stable ground. This would be a lot closer fit to the 'CD over the stereo system' example you mentioned.

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