Reminders on Music and Movie License Regs

June 24, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Campgrounds or RV parks that plays music as seldom as three times a year may benefit from the Society  of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) new Limited Usage Fee Schedule.

According to the Association for RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), parks that play no other  licensable music throughout the year except for three specific times might qualify for a reduced SESAC fee. Parks will have to report the exact dates of these three music events directly to SESAC, and parks need to take note that this limited usage music license is currently only being offered through SESAC.

Any business that performs copyrighted music has to obtain permission from the copyright owner prior to performing copyrighted compositions, according to Mary Tack, ARVC education specialist.

In short, copyright law protects the people who created (wrote) the music, i.e., the songwriters, not necessarily the performers who are singing the music. Under U.S. copyright law, the business owner is responsible for obtaining authorization prior to the public performance of any copyrighted music at their campground. Music that’s used without the proper advance authorization is a violation of U.S. Copyright Law. It’s called copyright infringement.

Tack said liability exists even where the campground owner does not authorize the unlicensed use of music, or if the unlicensed use is in violation of the owner or operators instructions, and even if the owner or operator had no knowledge of the unlicensed use.

There are two levels of infringement under federal law, according to Bill Stevens, director of business development for SESAC.

“At the innocent level where the business didn’t know any better they can be fined anywhere between $750 and $30,000 for each song,” Stevens explained. “Willful infringement — meaning the business owner knew the legalities and did it anyway — $30,000-$150,000 for each song used without permission. Plus there can be court costs, attorney fees, and potential for an injunction to stop the business from using music.”

Stevens said SESAC’s goal is not to go around scaring people — the company wants to build relationships through education.

“We want to build positive business relationships and educate them as best we can,” he said. “It is about the protection of intellectual property. I give the example — if you’re a KOA or Jellystone park and you have a logo that is recognized nationally, you pay to use that image. You can’t just take that sign and put it on your park without permission. It is all under the big umbrella of protection of intellectual property.”

In a world where information is so much more accessible today, SESAC has many avenues by which to police the issue.

“Most business owners have websites about their amenities and activities and beyond that we have our affiliates who live all over the country and these folks email us information about where they have performed,” Stevens said. “And even beyond that we have consultants who work in the field — they travel within their region and go to businesses to see where all music is being used out there.”

“We really do not want to frighten people,” Stevens added. “We really would prefer to educate them to help them understand why this is something they need to do.”

Campgrounds are responsible for music performed in areas rented to patrons. Areas where music may be used in a campground include events, parties and functions, dances, rallies, festivals, pot luck dinners, sing-a-longs around a campfire, exercise classes, water aerobic classes, music around a pool or common gathering area, pavilion area, music in a game room or exercise room, movie nights, or watching sporting events, restaurants or café’s.

Some licensable sources of music in a campground are live bands, single instrumentalists, DJ’s, karaoke, radios, CDs and DVDs, tapes, jukeboxes, large screen TVs or multiple TVs, MP3 files, computers or other music files.

For parks that play music more than three times a year the SESAC blanket license is the least complicated and most economical way to obtain the required permission, according to SESAC. It grants campgrounds unlimited access to publicly perform copyrighted music in the SESAC repertory. SESAC has a searchable database where campground owners can determine if a song is in the SESAC repertory.

Parks that do not have any licensable music usage, anytime during the year, are not obligated to pay fees to SESAC, ASCAP or BMI.

Discounts for music licenses from all three PRO’s continue to be available to ARVC members.

For more information on this program please contact Mary Tack at

Movie License Required

Camping season is here and campgrounds that want to show movies or other video  programs need know that a license is required. Today’s campers expect a full range of  amenities and parks with a video license can offer increased programming at reasonable fees.

ARVC and the Motion Picture Licensing Corp. (MPLC) have helped members learn about the pluses of video licensing and the array of programs available to campgrounds with an MPLC Umbrella License.

According to the Federal Copyright Act, pre-recorded home videocassettes or DVDs, those commonly available in retail or rental stores, are intended for personal, private, home use only. The MPLC is an independent copyright licensing service exclusively authorized by motion picture studios to grant the MPLC Umbrella License to businesses, nonprofit groups, and government organizations for the public performance of motion pictures contained within pre-recorded home videocassettes and DVDs.

The MPLC has licensed more than 250,000 locations in the U.S. and over 450,000 locations worldwide in 21 countries. The MPLC’s license holders include the smallest camps and public libraries, large corporations and federal government departments, and all the major operators within the camping industry.

According to ARVC, once licensed campgrounds can select movies and other programs from over 400 MPLC Member Licensors, including major Hollywood studios, independent, foreign, faith-based, specialty, and children’s producers.

The standard license is an annual license for campgrounds that plan to limit movies to indoor use. With a standard license parks can host family movie nights, child care programs, and other indoor activities. The seasonal premium license is for campgrounds open less than six months a year that are looking for all-inclusive, campground-wide use, whether indoors or outdoors. The annual premium license provides the same comprehensive coverage for campgrounds open year round.

ARVC encourages its members to comply with federal copyright law through the purchase of an MPLC Umbrella License. To obtain a license, and take advantage of the ARVC member discount rates, contact ARVC at (800) 395-CAMP or MPLC at 800-462-


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