ASCAP and Copyright Law
Bob Nieland (rgn@MCS.NET)
Mon, 26 Aug 1996 23:32:58 -0500
>Is there anyone out there who could give a better idea of
>what the copyright laws say about this situation?
Sure. Here's a quick overview.
Among other things, the US Copyright Act protects original musical works.
Protection now arises automatically when an original work is created--there
are no longer any copyright notice or registration requirements in the
United States. The copyright owner has five exclusive rights - to reproduce,
prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform and display the work.
ASCAP apparently was seeking royalties from camps that "perform" the songs
of composers they represent.
While the five rights of the copyright owner are exclusive, they are not
unlimited. The Copyright Act spells out some important exceptions. The best
known of these is the exception for "fair use". However, there is another
section in the Act that is more directly relevant to the ASCAP situation.
Section 110(4) says that the following does not constitute infringement:
"(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
(i) the notice shall be in writing and signed by the
copyright owner or such owner's 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."
I suspect that what ASCAP was trying to do (and now apparently is backing
off) was to close the loophole for not-for-profit summer camps that charge a
fee by sending the notice of objection required by Section 110(4)(B).
Hope that helps. Sorry about the legal mumbo-jumbo.
Bob Nieland (email@example.com)
Cub Scout Pack 101
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City