The Big Karaoke Crackdown

from the sing-along-now... dept

Earlier this week, Aaron deOliveira pointed to the news that the music industry was going after a pub in Syracuse, NY for having a karaoke night and not paying the related performance fees (the pub claims that only five songs in the rotation were on the list of complaints). Apparently, industry lawyers actually bothered to hire a private investigator to go to the pub and write down the songs being sung. By itself, this didn’t necessarily seem postworthy. However, then Michael Geist pointed out that similar charges have been filed at some clubs in Canada. It’s probably a coincidence, but perhaps the industry has suddenly decided that it’s simply not squeezing enough money out of people singing along badly to songs they enjoy and has decided to start cracking down on “rogue” karaoke providers. Not that the recording industry is known for their “big picture” thinking, but this seems fairly shortsighted. Shouldn’t they be encouraging more people to sing along with their favorite tunes? Next thing you know they’ll start going after those of you who sing outloud as you listen to your iPods. After all, if you’re outside, it is a “public performance.”

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Comments on “The Big Karaoke Crackdown”

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Motopsycho says:

Bars and karaoke

Demigod is right, and it’s happened before here in vegas. We lost one club because this exact thing happened.

On the other hand, the last bar we played at got threatened by ASCAP for not paying fees, and the bar owner simply asked the ASCAP representative where it shows in writing that he has to pay HIM, not the artist in question. The next question he had for ASCAP was “where in the letter of the law does it say a bar having karaoke is required to pay?”

As far as nevada law goes, it doesn’t, and they tend to back down at this point. The problem is most bar owners aren’t as much of an ass as this guy is, and don’t want the fight.

Of course his other response was “OK, we’ll stop having karaoke. Then when you leave, we’ll have it again, until you come back…then we’ll stop again.” 😛

Rob says:

Re: Such Bull

I understand how you feel but writing about it doesn’t solve the problem. If some organization would get together all music fans and start boycoting cd shops and stop downloading from music websites for 1 week, yes 1 week only, these legalized copyright associations would go bankrupt and start feeling the pressure from the record industry. Then, maybe then, they might let go or find alternative solutions suitable for both producers and consumers.

Anonymous Coward says:

ASCAP is a lot of the problem. Not only do they go after the bar owners, but the people who own the karaoke systems. Most karaoeke discs, that I know of, have changed a word or two so as not to be excatly like the original version. Thus they should be able to get around legalities. It’s like adjusting a recipe to make it yours. Evidently, following the “bouncing ball”is now illegal.

Chuck Noblet says:

Pathetic Leeches

ASCAP/BMI/RIAA/MPAA is so frightened by technology that all they know how to do anymore is litigate. Forget about coming up with new ideas or an attractive product – that’s too hard! Better to create these little “legal’ traps (DMCA, Copyright that never expires) and then sue as much as possible, for as much as possible. They seem to prefer operating in this negative way, and while it only makes enemies of their customers, appearantly this is their chosen business model. Tell a friend.

Eric says:

Same old game

I can remember ASCAP going around my town and threatening businesses that were playing a radio. Back then they must have been hawking DMX (digital radio). You could either sign up for a special license of DMX or risk getting sued.

I’m not surprised they’re pulling this crap now. When are artists going to realize it’s in their interest to bypass old organizations like ASCAP and the RIAA and sell directly to their audience?

somemusician says:


ASCAP is a different animal than the RIAA. ASCAP gives money to the artist, RIAA gives it to the record companies.

artists (like myself) use ASCAP as a way of getting our music out to the masses and also as a tool for getting paid for what we create.

I agree business owners probably hate ASCAP, but its the law to pay for public perfomances of songs/film/tv that is copyrighted…. and if there’s a problem with it, they should contact their congressman.

Mousky says:

Marketing and Goodwill - Foreign words to the Indu

“Shouldn’t they be encouraging more people to sing along with their favorite tunes?”

Unfortunately, the industry seems hell bent on squeezing every last penny instead of actually marketing music and creating goodwill. I’ve been wating for WKRP in Cincinnati to come out on DVD, but apparently, they can’t confirm who holds the rights to the music played in the show, therefore, no DVD. Gotta love it when copyright law is use to prevent competition, innovation, etc. I want WKRP on DVD!

Anonymous Coward says:

I personally agree with somemusician.

First of all, the RIAA doesn’t have anything to do with this, this is an ASCAP thing.

And if a business like this pub wants to bring in customers with public performances of their artist’s songs (albeit terrible performances), they need to pay the respective fees and quit being cheap.

Virginia Nigel says:

How much do you have to give?

I have been running Karaoke for a couple of years and have invested over $7,000 in karaoke disks which has given me about 8,000 non repeated songs and the quality of some brands don’t even sound like the original at all. It’s up to the singer to out perform the track and make a good performance come to life, not the ASCAP. Without the singer who has already bought the CD to practice with, there would be many more awful renditions. When people hear great renditions in karaoke they would be more inclined to go out and buy the original CD. So shut up and just except the fact that you can’t get more of your hands in our pockets. Karaoke adds revenue to the music industry without extortion.

Hogan (user link) says:

Re: How much do you have to give?

You know it Virginia, as a patron of bars, I myself have been turned on to new tunes that I would of not heard or known about. ASCAP is a scam and we all know it, I am a musician too and have never joined their unions or participated in ASCAP. I played in bars in cover bands all the time, played original too, would feel flattered if I went to a bar and heard a cover of MY tune. For me it is not about money, it is about creative expression.

Hogan (user link) says:

Re: How much do you have to give?

You know it Virginia, as a patron of bars, I myself have been turned on to new tunes that I would of not heard or known about. ASCAP is a scam and we all know it, I am a musician too and have never joined their unions or participated in ASCAP. I played in bars in cover bands all the time, played original too, would feel flattered if I went to a bar and heard a cover of MY tune. For me it is not about money, it is about creative expression.

Virginia Nigel says:

Re: Re: Re:Hogan

Thanks Hogan, you and I have obviously similar backgrounds, I have been in bands since I was 16 and just stopped playing the bar scene last December. At 43 years old and making triple what I would playing guitar and singing on a Friday and Saturday it was a no brainer to put my sound equipment to work, albeit I have an enormous amount of equipment to haul around and that makes my Karaoke system sound live. The one thing that I have to live down is that most Karaoke jockeys have what I call boom box Karaoke, an all in one mixer/amp, 2 small cheap speakers that sound like an AM radio in a trash can turned up to the point of total distortion and a couple of $20 mics. What you would buy your child but with just a bit more power, still garbage in my opinion. I do miss some of the attention I would get but I don’t have to sing 40 to 50 songs in a night anymore.

Nigel says:

Re: Blake

That’s just the brainless reply that I would expect from someone with no talent, education, or respect for other forms of entertainment besides WWF, farting, burping, or other things a delinquent would find funny or entertaining! Obviously you have been the butt of many cruel practical jokes… How about your grammar too, you must be a cartoon or just another lonely grade school dropout who lives with his mother and knows how to use a spell checker? “but I’m wholly support any stipulation that will help to extinguish” – “Closed minded, 40 year old VIRGINS like you Blake”. If you don’t like Karaoke please do us all a favor, stay home, keep your Gameboy company and try to keep your foot out of your mouth.

Fan says:

karaoke is old news when it comes to ascap. most karaoke companies have already paid a icensing fee with ascap for the songs and then pass that cost over to the bar/club that uses their songs. it’s not like these people are in their home with friends; they’re in a bar that likely profits from having a karaoke night (ie. profiting from someone else’s copyrights). The license includes the right to play the song as well as to display the lyrics (which may have their own copyrights), and one needs to probably clear the right to publicly perform the work. This is also why the riaa (i don’t know about ascap) was thinking of suing everyone who posts their own karaoke versions of songs on YouTube. Though that is probably a bit safer (is anyone profiting?) its the same idea.

Amos says:

Re: Re:

It DOES matter what music is available for karaoke, because it has to be something the (probably drunk) person actually knows if they are going to get up and sing it. Bars DO profit from karaoke night. Much like the music industry, the alcohol indusry is big business ($140 billion in sales per year in the US)…if anything there should be MORE leverage against bars than there is against regular folks. It’s not like the alcohol industry can’t afford karaoke licenses.

I thought TechDirt was frequented by people fighting for the little guy. The alcohol industry doesn’t count.

someartist says:

The point of copyright law....

is to give artists incentive to continue to make original creations by allowing them to make a living from their work. Our founding fathers in this country made copyright law specifically to encourage continued innovation and artistic expression because IT ENRICHES OUR PEOPLE AND OUR WORLD to have inventions, works of art and music being made in every generation and by artists who devote their lives to their work. Without an incentive to innovate and create new works, our world would be pretty ugly, boring and grey to say the least.

If all an artist has to look forward to is to make a work, sell it once and then suddenly it becomes “free” because there are no copyright laws (or everyone steals it as now happens), that artist will soon give up making original works. That means the world loses the richness an artist brings to the world through sharing their creative gifts. So you haven’t just stolen from the artist, you’ve stolen from society when that artist gives up and takes a job washing dishes or driving truck because they can’t survive on their art any longer. How many Elvis’s, Beatles, Mariahs, Spielbergs, Bruckheimers and so on would never realize their potential because they couldn’t make enough money to survive? How many great works of art would we as society lose because society didn’t care to support the artist? Sad but it can happen if copyright laws are rolled back.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to live in a world of cookie cutter freshman music, art and design, no inventions or innovations coming along to enrich life because artists and inventors *innovators* realize they can’t survive being artists. I don’t want to live in a place where books, movies, paintings, sculpture, photos, music, tv shows and so much more are only produced by newbie artists who try once and find out they can’t make enough money to live. Would you really want to enjoy only the first efforts of artists? Would you give up the possibility of enjoying all the Spielberg movies in exchange for having just his first effort all because you feel you have a right to have free access to copy and distribute creative works? Doesn’t anyone see how shortsighted and self destructive this would be? “Yeah, I’ll take the one made with baby steps and copy it, show it, share it all I want. But I don’t care if I miss the chance of seeing any of the other possible efforts *no matter how great they are* that this artist might make in the future.”

This copyright law brouhaha is not about the little guy against the “industries”. It’s about artists being able to survive. Copyright gives them a means to do that if their work is good enough. Without copyright protection, the creative effort would not be worth the time and energy.

Ever notice how an artist gets better, evolves and explores new areas over time? How some musicians create a killer 3rd album but their 1st and 2nd are not worth listening to? Well there would never be that 3rd album if the artist thought they could not survive because society didn’t value them enough to pay them in exchange for the use and enjoyment of their work.

Copyright affects a lot more than just music. I’m not sure about ASCAP and RIAA and the corporate entities involved and how they are “demons” to be fought (as some feel they are). But I’m an artist in another medium and what I’m saying is that artists can’t survive unless they can control and profit from their work – they can’t do that if people are stealing it and using it without permission. No one can live on air and compliments, it takes money. And artists deserve to be able to make money from their work on their terms. If you don’t like their terms, don’t patronize them.

Our founding fathers supported creatives and made copyright a law. Our legislators understand that creators must have the law on their side to protect their investments in their future, their works that they control in order to make enough money to survive. If you really think you deserve “free” art/music/creations, how about quitting your job and begin living as an artist. How about trying to make a living from creating original things you sell. See how long you can survive. You might just realize that being an artist is not all money and glory, and that artists deserve to be paid and deserve respect for the enrichment they bring to our world.

allan says:

Re: The point of copyright law....

someartist- you seem to have a very narrow view of how artists get paid…. i’m guessing you haven’t made any money on your own works yet….

In any case, if some bar has your song in a karaoke file, you have probably already made plenty of money on it because you have record and concert royalties, and it has been on the radio for 6 months…. it’s not like the bar is holding out your work as their own… if someone knows it well enough to karaoke it, and a karaoke provider has gone to the trouble of writing it into his playlist it has to be a pretty popular tune.

If you have the kind of exposure needed for this to happen, and you haven’t made decent money off of the track, it’s your own fault for not negotiating a favorable deal with your record company/tour manager/etc…

yet another artist says:

Re: The point of copyright law....

Arguing this point with people who have never created any intellectual property of actual merit (outside of their fourth-grade poetry assignment) is a waste of time. Maybe those wo are not working in fastfood might understand it better if a co-worker grabbed their work and submitted to the boss as a product of said co-worker – and the boss rewarded said co-worker for the effort.

Lay Person says:

Re: The point of copyright law....

This is a lame argument.

In my experience, it’s usually the first/second album that’s good and then their third/fourth album that actually sucks!

Why? because of a little thing called selling-out. This is where an artist becomes a business person. The art goes out the window along with their muse.

If artists were business people they’d be just that, but they’re not, so they do what they do best and just create. If your work is really any good you’ll make money. If you need practice get a job to supplement it. I too am a musician; I write and play my music for the sake of the art itself…not to make money. If I could make money at it, I’m not sure the music would be as good or as fun to make. My mind would simply be set on schedules and dollar amounts rather than notes or melodies.

You see? Artists out to make money aren’t worth the text to write about them. The songs become formulaic and humans can tell the difference. There is no good that comes out of the music industry except perhaps Paris Hilton’s new song or perhaps Jessica Simpson!

This is the usual lifecycle: artist works at craft for 10 years, artist is good, artist gets signed. Artist records original, pre-signing, material. Album is popular due to artists own authentic creation. Artist is now in demand and label needs more money to ride their coat-tails. Company rides artist’s coat-tails for perhaps 3 albums. But now record sales are slipping, the pressure is on. Artist fades into obscurity by the very company that helped promote him. Artist runs out of money, ego, or whatever reason he wakes in the morning. Artist stages a comeback…their music just sucks from here-on-out.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Re: The point of copyright law....

Amen to your analysis of what a true artist is. I am a KJ and do it for the pure pleasure of doing it. There isn’t enough hours in a week to make a good living at it. Yes, I accept a very small amount of money to cover expenses and if I had to give what little was left to somone I already paid money to for the music I have….well, I would have to find something else to do.

By the way….you forgot to mention Norah Jones! *S*

phoenix says:

Dear idiot, yes the copyrights are there to protect the inventors and the artists, however that is why you can take an invention study it and improve upon it and copyright it yourself. Same goes with music. As long as you change it sufficiently to make it yours there is no infringement. Now as in the invention if people don’t like your version and or improvement of the invention then they will buy the original. same goes for music and other art forms. That is simply how it is and how the laws are.

So in short Mr.someartist GET REAL! And live with it!

someartist says:

Dear MrPhoenix,

You’re right – you can’t copyright an idea. It’s only the EXPRESSION of an idea that is copyrighted the moment it takes a tangible form. That means the moment you finish a painting or sculpture, click a camera shutter, finish a screenplay or music score. And once the copyright is in place (you don’t have to register it, it is automatically granted when you make something), it becomes illegal for anyone but the creator to copy or use that work in any way unless they have the express permission of the creator.

That’s the law and as I wrote, there are very good reasons for it – survival of artists/creators AND ongoing innovation and enrichment of our society as a whole. Very well thought out reasoning I might add – the fathers of our country were certainly not stupid when they included laws to protect artists/creatives.

But there are very specific legal interpretations about what is plagerism (illegally copying with no real unique artistic creation i nvolved) and what is actually creating a new work of art. This gets into derivitive works which according to law again is a right the artist controls — no matter how much you’d like to have that right.

Changing a few words in a song is not enough — the melody, tempo or key must be changed as well. If not enough words are changed, it would still be copyright violation — stealing from the artist. But if the words are changed to make a parody of the song, that could be considered Fair Use under copyright law.

Here is a link to more info on the myths about copyright:

10 Myths about Copyright There is some info on derivitives, parody and Fair Use there – an excellent primer on the whys and hows of copyright.

someartist says:

Re: Re: Dear MrPhoenix,

Yeah dml337ira, Weird Al has “gotten away” with it for years because what he does is considered parody. That’s where you make a joke out of something – it’s not just a derivative version (like karaoke is), it’s intent is to make a joke not be a version of the original. Parody is allowed under Fair Use doctrines of the copyright laws….

Jon says:

Paying for what you like

Someartist, how much have YOU lost by having your music “stolen”? And how much of the money collected by RIAA, ASCAP, et al, have YOU seen [for residuals, not original payment]? For that matter, how likely are we to have heard your music? I don’t go out and buy a CD because of the name of the artist/group, I buy because I’ve HEARD their music and liked it. What was the likelihood that what I heard was “stolen”? Pretty great!So in your best of all worlds, where your music is only played after it’s paid for, you’d be SOL. A lot of the people you mentioned got their music out to the people by having it played on radio [and even went to the extent of illegally PAYING radio stations to play their music], playing in public [often for free, or for drinks in a bar, or, if they were good enough, for a small performance fee] until enough people had heard them that they could charge for their performances. How many new artists never made the 2d or 3rd album because no one had heard them and there was no demand for thier music.

If your music were good enough, people would want to have it available to listen when they wanted. Your arguments are valid if you were talking about people sharing your recordings, but you should be happy if your music is played in public. As far as karoke goes, as someone said, the “entertainers” there are the people who get up and entertain. If you want payment for the performances of your music in public, then you need to be performing. Once your music has been sold, that copy belongs to the buyer. You can make as many copies as you like, and sell each one. Your problem is getting people to want that music enough to buy it. And the best way to do that, if your music is good, is to let people hear it so they will want to own it, and want other music you create.

You spoke of artists whose 3rd album is better than their first. I wonder how that number compares to those whose first album, often first recording, is the best they ever do, and they just go down from there.

phoenix says:

Oh and just so you know just because you copyright something does not mean that you can’t get screwed. If you invent something and someone finds a way to improve it then they can either come up with their own spin on it and copyright the whole thing. Or they can copyright the improvements they come up with. So when the original inventor also finds the improvement he has to pay the inventor of the improvement in order to use it.

Something else while I’m at, That jon guy is right. I don’t quote steal music. If I hear of a group and can find a song name I will download it and listen. If I like it then I usually go out and buy the album, if I don’t like it I delete and don’t give another thought about them.

someartist says:

I'm not a music artist...

…I’m a visual artist, Jon. So I can’t completely identify with your feedback. What I can identify with is having my visual art stolen and reproduced (like crap I might add) by people who make $$$ off my work without paying me. That is illegal and makes it harder for me to make a living. It makes it harder for me to keep focused on my artistic visions, to keep pushing to make better work in the future. And besides, it’s just plain not fair to take things that don’t belong to you and then turn around make money with stolen goods. Or to take the goods that an artist might sell and give them away for free – that’s like going to the corner store and throwing open the doors after you buy your chips and beer and saying “Hey, come and steal some for yourself! Everyone can have whatever they want here – I’ve already paid!”. It’s just crazy and completely illogical. You don’t own the rest of the store’s stock any more than you own the rights to reproduce the song or painting or book you buy.

That’s the point here: if you use someone else’s property to make money (or prevent them from making more money by giving it away ** as in copies), you have to pay for the privilege. That is the economics of art. A piece of art (print, sculpture, song, movie) is not something that “belongs” to the buyer to do whatever they wish once they buy it. It belongs to the artist and the COPY they sell to people is for PERSONAL enjoyment NOT for use commercially to make the buyer an income. Art is not like widgets, piecework that you sit and make 12 hours a day, hoping to sell 2 dozen widgets today to stay afloat. That’s why the economics of art is so hard for the non-artist to understand.

In the case of karaoke, the writer of the song (lyrics and tune regardless if that is one person or two) are the owners of the song NOT the person off the street who buys the CD or pays for a download of the tune. The song owners get to decide how much someone pays for the privilege of making money with their property. The buyers off the street are buying a copy for personal enjoyment only – not for commercial gain. That is copyright law and I’ve already explained why we as a society should encourage and support artists for the good of society as a whole.

If you don’t like copyright law, then you’ll need to change it. But before you go off half-cocked and try to do that just to spite the ASCAP or RIAA or some other big corporate entity that you view as the villain keeping you from what you consider to be your rightful freebies, think about this: there will be no legendary artists in the future if there isn’t copyright law to help them make a living from their work. There will be no more Steven Spielbergs, Mariah Careys, U2s, Steven Soderberghs, Michael Crichtons, Eric Claptons, Johnnie Cashes, Luther Vandrosses, Tom Pettys, Ray Charleses, Bob Dylans, Jerry Bruckheimers, Picassos, Rodins, VanGoghs…. and I could go on. There will be more legendary artists that develop and hone their art over time. Why? Because society insists they have a right to steal their work from them without paying them.

You said it best:

” I wonder how that number compares to those whose first album, often first recording, is the best they ever do, and they just go down from there.”

Well, maybe they couldn’t continue because other artists ripped off their work and then made the work into hits and the real creators couldn’t afford to fight them and get their due payment. Or maybe they were just not very good artists to begin with and only had one record in them. For those types, I don’t much care if they don’t survive to make another record. But I DO NOT WANT TO LOSE THE ABILITY TO HAVE LEGENDARY ARTISTS who develop and hone their craft over a lifetime and keep delighting us with beautiful work. I do not want to lose people like I named all because society is so short sighted they can’t see that without copyright law to help artists make a living and have incentive to keep going, there will just be no one who will make art. Oh, except we’ll have uber rich moron no-talents like Paris Hilton to entertain us since she can just use her trust fund….No thank you, I’ll take real art over that any day. I hope I die before I see a world filled with “artists” like that….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm not a music artist...

Perhaps you should consider not being an artist if the life would be too hard for you….that’s the way artist’s of all walks have always lived… Music artists need to find other ways to support themselves other then large corporate labels that do a number of illegal moves as it is just to control the record industry..entertainment and tech are two of the largest industries in the world….and we still apply the american capitalist mentality that you see no where else…that the corporate must survive…In any other country

it’s survival of the fittest…if you can’t attract a fan base loyal enough…then why would anybody listen to or support you? If only 13-23 year old sorority girls love you…maybe you appeal to too narrow and too manufactured a genre..if only women past 40 listen to your Saxophone blowing michael bolton ass….maybe you’re a worthless artist and should pick a new path.

More “Artists” in the music industry need to so much as truly write their own music and not rely on industry legends to hold their prissy little hand. People who get into music to get rich or any art…are in it for the wrong reasons and turning on fans that may not be able to buy your crappy cd in the record store that’s near them…because it’s practicly owned by the big 5 labels. They control what the stores stock….it’s illegal but they keep getting caught for it. So online pirating may be the only exposure you ever get…If you let fans know that you suspect them of disloyalty….they become disillusioned….I got to concerts of the bands I find through pirating…and I buy their shirts and cds at the show…what more money do I owe them? and that’s best way I have of knowing the label gets as little as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is news? Or even new?

5his is the law of the land and it is nothing new, it is the way performers get paid. The fees are paid by people running commercial establishments. Don’t use music to generate profits and you don’t have to pay.

If you can’t understand that, you are either a commie treehugging bad smelling homo, or an idiot. So which one is it?

phoenix says:

Hmm ok it’s illegal to quote steal someone music or art and profit from it, but yet it’s legal for businesses to either fish for your information or blatently produce malware to report your private information back to them, both are stealing. It’s just a double standard deal. And yes to take someones whole art and profit from it is stealing, same goes with inventions. However they are going after even the people with mp3 cd’s that they have made as a backup to their originals that they bought, and because they can’t produce the original copy then they are getting sued over it. It’s just greedy BS guys! Just face it already.

Virginia Nigel says:


Karaoke is a great promoter for the original artist but no one is paying bars to promote them, if you want to get technical about it. Don’t forget that one karaoke disk cost around $30 for 15 songs and there are tons of people doing Karaoke so someone is making a load of cash. Also your not buying the original artist performance minus words, you get garage band or better take-offs a lot, except for Sound Choice and Chartbuster who seem to have the best musicians in Karaoke but you will pay a premium for the better quality disk. I have about 60% Sound Choice in my collection. One other thought, if you buy a disk with 15 songs you may have paid for 13 songs that will never be played, that makes the 2 songs pretty expensive. I have around 8k songs but each night I take from 50 to 70 request’s that’s less than one percent and I did pay over $7k in hard cash up front, how about just leaving it alone, in the immortal words of David Gilmore “What do you want from me”.

WhoNu says:

So where does congergational singing in a church fall into this mess? Is it one songbook per singer or can two or three sing from the same book?

And how about the good ole song that we have all sung. “Happy Birthday”? I think I read that Time Warner owns the rights to that song and that they collect a couple million (USD) per year from it. You’d think well who the hell would pay for that? And you’d be correct to think so except that I suppose that anytime it’s sung by a DJ over the air or live, it’s been paid for, Right?

The happy birthday deal get’s deeper too. Consider this, next time you take dear GF out to eat for her birthday and you tip off the waiteress that it is GF’s birthday, knowing they will come out with their big assed hats and oversized foam shoes and sing “Happy Birthday” to her,

well, stop them before they start singing because you need to know if it’s being sung legally. If not here you go becoming a part of this crime. You requested the song, you sat there and listened to the song with a big ole stupid grin slapped accross your face and you whistled it for the next two days because you couldn’t get it unstuck from inside your head.

Anyway, the boss is coming, gotta zip. Someone finish this for me

Chuck Noblet says:

Free Promotion + Double-Dipping = $$$!

Those Karaoke discs are expensive, and don’t you think ASCAP already gets paid when the discs are licensed, and then again (“per unit”) when they are produced? Add in the extortion money from so-called public performance of each song, and …actually that would be Triple-Dipping.

Amos says:

Profit where Profit is Due

This is a case where someone is making a profit with someone else’s art. A profit is actually being made, and not a penny is going to the creator/owner of the work…that’s just plain wrong. The money involved makes it completely different from the scenario in which people are sharing “free” copies of songs with each other.

phoenix says:

Something else comes to mind. Everyone who frequents a bar has notice the big televisions that are showing news and sports. Now those programs are copyrighted and do you see them paying the networks or the teams? No? I didn’t think so. That’s because they don’t, and yet I don’t hear the networks complaining to much about it. Again it’s just the greedy hands of the RIAA and ASCAP that are causing the problems.

jsnbase says:

Re: phoenix

I sort of agree with you in principle, but there are two things I think you should double-check:

1) ‘If you change it sufficiently it doesn’t violate copyright.’ Really? What is the standard for sufficient change? Don’t ask George Harrison.

2) The bar-sports thing. There were plenty of battles over this. Recently there have been issues regarding NFL games in blacked-out areas and PPV sporting events, but those are somewhat different issues.

phoenix says:

whoa amos if your referring to congregational singing, those aren’t free copies. They are copyrighted and have been paid for. For the longest time my church rented a public building and if we wanted to sing we had to keep the doors closed and the volume down or we would be quote having a public performance. So therefore we would be breaking the law. To top that off if the material started to wear out we aren’t allowed to make copies of it to replace the old ones. It’s not like we are reditributing them or anything, and I know it’s not the artists fault it’s the damn recording company.

Anonymous Coward says:

@ phoenix: Shhhh! They’ll hear you!

Ya professional sports is big huge money, a lot of mouths to feed – wonder why ABC/NBC/CBS hasn’t tried putting this plan to work? Seems to me it would be even easier to get extortion money from bars who show TV as their featured entertainment, than from amateur vocalists attempting to sing to a backing track of “Emotional Rescue”.

MusicLover says:


Karaokes, if you look at it in a legal manner, does violate the (copy)rights of the artist, in the sense that they are illegal (modified, but still illegal) copies of the original works. The only way a karaoke song would not be illegal would be if the song either isn’t copyrighted in the first place (and I doubt that many artists have explicitly freed their copyrights from their songs), or if they develop their own songs.

But what is the purpose of karaoke in the first place?

Karaoke could be considered as a way for an individual or a group to be able to enjoy the music in a way other than what the original artist has intended.

The thing with music is that unlike visual art — which is an individual expression of oneself — it isn’t just an art, it’s a cultural expression. Our ancestors used music as a means to communicate with their gods (and even today is seen in religious music). Singing was also a tool in society for many other events, like serenading, group gatherings (like in celebrating the new harvest or a war victory), etc.

In medieval times, there were the bards. Although most, if not all, would have at least one original composition, I’m convinced that there would be “common songs” (popular music in our day) that, regardless of who originally composed it, would be performed in all taverns and other public places, and these songs people would enjoy the most because they’re familiar with them.

While the copyright laws would protect the modern artist’s original works, it does not, in any way, stop the original uses of music in our society. It’s just that since we are less communal and more globally interconnected, we get to hear a lot of various songs and music… some of which would eventually be considered popular.

No matter how many people you’d have arrested or sued, you cannot stop people from singing your song especially if it’s a popular title, because singing is a communal/social activity and not just a single artist’s work. Karaokes just make it easier for the group because we can’t always have a personal band at our beck-and-call.

– – – – –

What are the options of those who want to sing?

* create their own songs. The most legal thing to do. However, that takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication, something that most people aren’t able to give for music.

* sing along to the original. If we’re following the 10 Big Myths about copyright, singing along with the original is already illegal because it isn’t included even in “fair use” (it’s probably only legit if it’s for non-profitable personal use, but I doubt). Worse, because there are TWO voices that compete with each other (original and sing-along), you’re going to get a lot of noise complaints AND very likely not understand a thing about the song.

* get a cover band. Really, if the cover band memorizes the tune then plays it, they’re probably violating copyright anyway because they copied the original song’s tune and played it without the original artist’s permission (don’t tell me there are many cover bands that actually wait for an artist’s consent before they can play the music).

* get a minus one. This gets a little technical, because there ARE artists that release minus ones (or voiceless versions) of their albums. If there would be any cover band that would record what they play, it’s technically a voiceless version of an artist’s song, and can probably be legal bait.

* go karaoke. Technically illegal but for most it’s one of the cheapest ways to enjoy the music without having to go through the trouble of purchasing sound systems, looking for minus ones or cover bands, and trying to calm down disgruntled neighbors.

* sing acapella (no music). Illegal without permission in the sense that, even if you don’t have the background music, you’re still singing the artist’s song (same lyrics, same tune).

– – – – –

If you think about it, American Idol and other singing contests should be sued for copyright infringement; most of the songs sung by those who auditioned are contemporary (pop/popular), and I’m pretty certain none of those who auditioned even bothered to ask permission from the original artists to sing their songs.

– – – – –

If we’re talking about artists in the province/state, copyrighting is easy to work with. But for international artists, you can’t expect them to be distracted 24/7 just because half of the six billion people in the world today want to sing their song in contests, in the shower, in karaoke bars, etc. can you?

Copying songs is bad, no doubt. But I think what singers (at least those whose interests aren’t primarily financial) really want protection from is other people copying their songs AND labeling it as their own.

– – – – –

Point of my whole post?

Karaoke may be illegal, but you really can’t stop the culture behind it.

Anonymous Coward says:

What an hysterical over reaction.

Bars have been paying ASCAP/BMI lisences forever. They are cheap as hell, like a penny times rated capacity per day. If a bar wants to have musical entertainment in any form at all they need a lisence.

THIS IS NOT NEW, its been this way for 50 years. If a bar is too cheap to pay a few hundred a year then thats their problem.

GOD of MUSIC - MN says:

I am a musician. I hear music floating and record it. I share it. I perform it. And I enjoy the Hell out of everyone else’s music.

Why don’t MOST musicians understand that it’s the publishing companies who are screwing the musicians who want/need to make money? When I see royalty figures of $.03-$.07 per download or $2 per $16 dollar CD it makes me laugh. Prince fights the good fight and publishes/distrubutes his own music. Atmosphere didn’t sell his soul or his music (other than the distribution contract he signed – but so what?) – Who is the real enemy here? The Slaveowners or the people who buy or trade cotton?

It always made me laugh to see Lars (Metallica) whine about Napster – I bought at least 3 of his albums on cassette tape, so I feel justified to download “and Justice for All” anytime I want to because I believe in filesharing is the best way to reach new listeners. How many units did Metallica sell? 100 million? 400 million? Well guess what… they didn’t reach MOST of the population on this planet. They fell short by about 5 billion. But after filesharing blewup there were hundreds of thousands of new listeners who bought concert tickets to see Metallica in Brazil, Europe, Austrailia – many of whom took home t-shirts.

The days of going multi-platinum are over and it’s not the fault of the casual fan who shares files or mix-tapes. It’s the greedy record/publishing companies who charge $16 (as much as any DVD) and only give their artists burger money for each unit sold. Just because they don’t have the courage to stand up to big money/corporation doesn’t mean that they should go home and beat their wives/fans for not giving it up.

The same goes with politics or religion.

Fight the right fight, not the distractions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey “someartist”!

I agree with copyright laws, but don’t you make enogh money off the SALE of the CD, movie,whatever? Then there is air play radio stations pay for, movies that are PAID for at theaters and on VHS, DVD,etc. Oh, and jukeboxes pay their fees also. I’m sure there are several other forms of fee collection. Most bars that have karaoke do so because they CAN’T AFFORD live entertainment! They are just trying to get by. Just like Rodney King,,,”Can’t we all just get along?”

newmanae says:

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, isn’t the old line. “any publicity is good publicity”? This sounds like jealousy that somebody else is making a buck. What do artists in any genre believe drive concert and cd sales? It’s gettting your name and product out there, if you’re depending on broadcast radio, MTV and other dying media outlets then call Ed Sullivans people and see who they’re booking

Anonymous Coward says:

MN has spoken well. I think the real arguement is often missed.

I think that the somewhere in the middle of this arguement lies the best solution. Best from the point of view that music is somehow easily HEARD at little (not zero – but possibly zero dollars, ie radio) cost to the general music-lover, while still benefiting the artist. someartist has a some good arguments, artists have to make money to survive and continue to expand their art. (Although historically artists never made much money, thats a new thing)

The real problem here is that right now the middle of this argument are the players that are making the most money. They provide distribution and marketing and they get the rewards. So obviously they are fighting hard to stop change.

Problem is they are also brainwashing the struggling artist into believing that they are struggling because the world is stealing. They don’t want a solution to be found that doesn’t involve them.

The solution is difficult, but as MN has pointed out – how many new fans might metallica have because of downloads? How long is it going to take before lots of artists are changing the industry by daring to be different? They might even find that there is even more money to be made than ever before.

Might bet would be on something like iTunes. If an artists could get 25c out of a 30c download, I bet everyone would be happy – except the labels. Of course that is never going to happen overnight as it takes a long time for a new marketing system to take over… but its slowly heppening. I already hear the “top 10 downloads” and “music from myspace”…. and the RIAA is getting scared.

Idiots. They should be going to apple and myspace and saying “what can we do to help you create your business … and an allegiance”

No doubt they slowly coming around and realizing, but they may have already screwed their chances.

someartist says:

Re: I think that the somewhere in the middle of th

Some good points Anonymous Coward. But the real problem is that the masses (people reading this kind of article) are getting up in arms and ready to do battle with the “bad guys”. The “bad guys” as you describe them, are the middlemen in the music industry and, yes, they have turf and $$$ to protect. But if battle is waged and won against them, all the artists lose too. People like me won’t have a way to stay with their work because they’ll have to get other employment just to survive. Not much room to be inspired to make new art when you’re working a full time job and no legendary artists got that way as part-time hobbyist artists….

See if the masses take a stand intending to defeat the corporate “bad guys” by fighting the “nasty” copyright laws back down to a point that there is no more protection for the artist, then all us little artists lose big time. The only artists that will be able to survive if that happens are going to be the ones with sponsors and patrons (you know the ones being pushed by the big name/big bucks labels and agencies) or worse, the “artists” born to massive wealth (here we go with the “artist” called Paris Hilton again…).

If this happens it will be a future sort of like back to the future only it will really be more like back to the past. Like when all the painters and composers and sculptors (Renaissance and before) were sponsored (read controlled) by the churches. They had to do as they were told, make work that pleased the patrons (church hierarchy) in order to get money in exchange so they could survive and still do their work.

If copyright law is repealed or whittled away, all of us little guys — the ones who just barely make a living wage by the sweat of our brow, creating new work, selling it, keeping our books,studios, websites, advertising campaigns, etc. in order (business/office work that must acompany even art), keeping in touch with our customers/galleries/etc, trying to stay inspired for more new work, learning new tools and techniques, issuing limited editions/copies of our best selling work to generate a bit more income to plump our paltry bottom line — all of us little guys will not be able to make it.

Without copyright protection, anyone will be able to legally take our work and use it for advertising to promote their business and we’ll get paid 0. We won’t be able to sell limited or open editions because someone else with more money and a bigger global presence (read big$$$ corporations, probably the same ones you hate for making all the $$$ now) will get ahold of a copy of our work and mass produce copies and be able to dominate the market, effectively cheating us out of part of our income stream. We won’t be able to fight any of these copyright thieves because the laws and courts won’t back us up and once the thieves know they face no penalty for taking our work and profitting from it, they’ll only accelerate their thievery and the carnage will be a lot of “dead” artists. Artists, who right now bring you beautiful paintings, sculptures, metal work, glass and stone work, photography, music and literature, plays, movies and more.

So the real problem is that people who are incensed over the music industry copyright enforcement issues are so mad they are forgetting that there are MANY other artists who are of value to society who will be hurt terribly by repealing copyright laws.

So before you go thinking copyright law is unnecessary and only benefits the big corporate machine, remember that MANY small time artists of real talent and value need copyright law to survive. I’m talking about regular joes like the guy down the street from you who writes books all day in his home office sometimes putting in 80 hour weeks without benefits for the love of his craft and all on speculation that he’ll sell enough to survive. Or the woman on the next block who paints and sells her original stuff at art fairs or galleries and also sells prints online. Or the small time photographer who has a little at home studio and shoots families and kids and relies upon them buying prints to make a living. Or the small time local musician who cuts his own CDs and sells them to local stores, tries to get his stuff played on the underground radio station and plays every weekend at the local coffeehouse. All those people need strong copyright laws to help them make a living.

Please don’t forget that copyright affects much more than just the corporations that are convenient to hate in this issue. It is a matter of life and death for art and for those who make that art who are not yet at the very very top rungs of the art world. Just remember that in a world without the “regular joe” artists, we’ll have only the Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan type of artist — those which are either born rich or who have by luck (and usually little talent) convinced one of the big “machine” corporations to put them on a promotion fast track. Like I said before, I hope I die before that ever happens….

Radio DJ says:

Turn that down!

Before computers replaced radio DJ’s, I worked at a radio station. We would routinely have a booth at every sport show, gun show, and home idea show. Some folks sold knives or bathroom tile. Our “product” was our on-air signal. But believe it or not, there was a period where we were not allowed to play our own station in our booth! That would have been a public performance… Never mind the astronomical ASCAP fees we paid annually already – they wanted more!

RenderingSanity says:

Where do we go from here?

Ok, everytime this kind of article is posted everyone bitches about it for 3-4 days then it dies and no change is made. That makes us about as helpful as a condom in a tack factory. How do we make an improvement? How can we change the system for the better, so everyone wins?

Right now I dont’ have the cash or time to run it but I’d like to see someone start a wiki project so we can constructively dialogue about this issue and perhaps develop some new business models. Who knows, maybe a music exec will get wind of the site, check us out and like our ideas.

I think it’s about time that we stop complaining and take some action to change the situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

What a bunch of cheap whiney dickless homos.

Here is a thought, you don’t want to pay royalties? Then start writing and recording songs yourself. You pissed off about the labels taking too much of the profit? Then distribute it yourself over the internet.

No one forces you to do anything, go out and do it yourself. Course, all the brilliant minds here will tell you how to do it, and then not want to pay for it anyway, but whatever.

So many posts, so little true information. Yeah, they are going to stop you from singing along while you walk down the street.

I really love all these idiots who think they have the answer. Here is a clue, if your idea is so great, why don’t you become a record executive. Since you have the answers, you will make millions.

Insanity Reigns says:

Just Plain Stupid

While “someartist” is right about artists needing their pay check just like anyone else, since the copyright holder has agreed to have their music placed on a karaoke CD, they have, in my mind, intrincically allowed this type of use. No one is so stupid as to think that a karaoke CD will only be used in the privacy of someone’s home. The producer of the karaoke CD must have obtained the rights, and paid, to create the CD so this is simply greed. Something became very popular and ASCAP and perhaps some artists now wants more…

Former says:


I doubt that they hired a PI per se. Back when I was a starving musician, I used to do these ASCAP investigations. You go in and yes, you sit there and write down the names of songs that you hear. You also fill out a report to prove that you were actually there, and you get an allowance for some food and/or drinks. Then you submit your report and get paid. All in all, you probably get maybe a few dollars per hour considering making the report, traveling, etc. Anybody could do it, frankly, if they sign up with ASCAP, though they prefer actual musicians.

Then ASCAP goes back to the owner and says, hey, you played these ASCAP songs, so pay up. They give several warnings. In principle, gee, great, the club owner pays up and artists get royalties. But I know of cases where the “investigation” turns up no ASCAP songs, but they keep up the pressure trying to get the owner to pay anyway. I think each regional ASCAP honcho has a quota to meet or something. The rep in my area was a moron.

It’s really RIAA-like ineptitude. In the end, the best they can do is find out that, say, four ASCAP songs were played, and the club pays a “standard fee”, not money directly to the artist or anything like that. And then the ASCAP bureacracy is kept afloat, and a percentage of money goes into a big pot with some $ going to artists. Not exactly an exemplary process.

So the upshot is that club owners, who are cash-strapped to begin with, stop having bands or even canned music. Or they just keep going, as this club apparently did.

KeviNG79 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I didn’t read through all the posts since it was to much reading 🙂 Maybe the RIAA will start hiring people to sit under people’s bathroom windows and record people singing there favorite song in the shower. The next big headline, The RIAA is into Voyeurism.

Seriously, this would not surprise me. The RIAA has already done this with their malware and spyware programs which invade our privacy to see what files are on our computers. If they can stoop that low, they’ll go even lower and start parking cars outside people’s houses with spy equipment… Just becareful. The next time you start singing your favorite song in the shower, you may have to deal with the greedy bastards of the RIAA/ASCAP knocking on your bathroom door.

Me and a couple cents says:

All or nothing?

Why must we have either very strict copyright law or none at all? I agree that the artists should be protected from loss of income by way of others performing their songs. However I don’t see how karaoke produces a loss of income. Let’s all remember, by the way, that this thread is about karaoke. Now perhaps Metalica would like to produce their own karaoke CD and licence it’s use…and hopefully all other popular artists would do the same. It’s not happening though. The reality becomes that the artists want control of their songs in the form of Totalitarianism.

Ok, let’s remember that only five songs violated copyright. That leads me to believe that at least most of the other songs were legal. Could it be that the karaoke manufacturer paid for a special licence to produce and distribute karaoke CDs for use by karaoke DJ’s? Or perhaps the bar’s ASCAP licence covers it? I’ve always assumed the former.

I would have thought a DJ would worry more about his having copied fellow DJ’s CD.

As long as I’m at it now… I’ve always had a problem with people hiding behind the law or the constitution. It’s like, “You can’t say anything about this because the constitution says thusly and that’s the end of it. Change the constitution and then you can talk.” Come on. Talking brings the problem to the surface and sows the seeds of change. Also, defiance is the way for the little people to push back against the status quo of the oppressors.

fete attention says:

this is different

They are not punishing the customers of the pub, they are punihing the Karaoke Jock. The KJ’s are using other persons works for a profitable venture. This is in stark contrast to the typical P2P fileshare user. While I agree with the private rights of citizens to do as they please, when one makes finacial gians from anothers vested intrest thats called being a republican and needs to be punished.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here are the facts, you may not like them, but they are facts.

Without IP rights, people will stop innovation, because there will be no financial incentive to innovate. Take away a musicians right to earn money on their work, and they will go out and get other jobs that do pay them.

Its that simple. Listen to John Lennon’s words in Imagine. Imagine no property or ownership. Kind of funny he sang that song, got a copywrite and then sold it.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here are the facts, you may not like them, but they are facts.

Minus the fact that most of your facts are not, you know, factual.

Without IP rights, people will stop innovation, because there will be no financial incentive to innovate. Take away a musicians right to earn money on their work, and they will go out and get other jobs that do pay them.

This is false. Without IP rights, innovation continues. In fact, recent research has shown that content creation *increases* without IP rights.

For example, Verdi wrote his works in a time before copyright and during his lifetime copyrights were put in place. His pace *SLOWED* drastically after copyrights were in place. Why? Because he could sit back and relax and wait for royalties. Before that, he had to write to make a living — and so he did so regularly.

Sorta goes against your “fact” that there would be no more content creation without IP rights, doesn’t it?

You say “taking away a musicians right to earn money…” but that’s an incorrect statement. You have only taken away *one way* that a musician can make money. Whether or not that means they can’t make money is up to them and the business models they choose to use.

Its that simple.

Yeah, it is. Unfortunately, the “facts” don’t actually agree with what you were saying.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Re: facts

Amen to that brother! Most of the successful musicians in the world sit back and collect royalties. It’s not because they lost their talent. It’s because they can afford to sit back and collect royalties. Why work then? It seems unphanthomable that Michael Bolton, for instance, lost his talent overnight and was doomed to a life of poverty. He simply reached a peak where he didn’t have to work anymore and that was that! The FACT is that if a musician/singer has real talent and that is sellable, they only need to “work” for a specified time anyhow. From there, it’s a matter of how long they can remain inactive and collect royalties on their works. The list goes on and on of musicians/singers who have done the same things. It’s the same sort of thing that keeps ASCAP, BMI and the other music magnates from suffering losses. But, that’s not enough.

They would rebut: “Why not capitalize on anything and everything we think we can. Let’s just CONTROL and CHARGE for everything over and over. We have a system here that allows us to make money from our product over and over again, no matter how many times the custiomer pays for it. They are merely ‘leasing’ out music and so we can dictate how and when they use it and how many times they have to pay us for the same thing.”

Doesn’t this sound like a monopoly or a scam of sorts? Many people in this country have been arrested and convicted of things for justifying things in the same way. Remember “protection” that gangs used to sell to businesses? “Just pay me every month and nothing will happen to your business”

ASCAP is trying to sell the same kind of service here. “Even if we have been renumerated for our service/product, let’s take every last dime from our customers that we can by letting them know that the product that they bought from us is not really thiers to do with as they please. Let’s keep ownership of the product so they can pay us again and again.”

What a RIPOFF! Next thing you know, they will be putting ‘Lowjack” on every one of their CDs so they know where it’s at and who is using it.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Re: facts

Amen to that brother! Most of the successful musicians in the world sit back and collect royalties. It’s not because they lost their talent. It’s because they can afford to sit back and collect royalties. Why work then? It seems unphanthomable that Michael Bolton, for instance, lost his talent overnight and was doomed to a life of poverty. He simply reached a peak where he didn’t have to work anymore and that was that! The FACT is that if a musician/singer has real talent and that is sellable, they only need to “work” for a specified time anyhow. From there, it’s a matter of how long they can remain inactive and collect royalties on their works. The list goes on and on of musicians/singers who have done the same things. It’s the same sort of thing that keeps ASCAP, BMI and the other music magnates from suffering losses. But, that’s not enough.

They would rebut: “Why not capitalize on anything and everything we think we can. Let’s just CONTROL and CHARGE for everything over and over. We have a system here that allows us to make money from our product over and over again, no matter how many times the custiomer pays for it. They are merely ‘leasing’ out music and so we can dictate how and when they use it and how many times they have to pay us for the same thing.”

Doesn’t this sound like a monopoly or a scam of sorts? Many people in this country have been arrested and convicted of things for justifying things in the same way. Remember “protection” that gangs used to sell to businesses? “Just pay me every month and nothing will happen to your business”

ASCAP is trying to sell the same kind of service here. “Even if we have been renumerated for our service/product, let’s take every last dime from our customers that we can by letting them know that the product that they bought from us is not really thiers to do with as they please. Let’s keep ownership of the product so they can pay us again and again.”

What a RIPOFF! Next thing you know, they will be putting ‘Lowjack” on every one of their CDs so they know where it’s at and who is using it.

Wild About Karaoke says:


For those of you who have commented on whether or not karaoke is a “stealing venue”, try this on for size. THIS IS REALITY coming from a so-called “thief”. I am a KJ and spend an hour sweating while I load my pick-up with thousands of dollars worth of equipment, including karaoke music that I PAID for. Then I drive for miles, most of the time. Then I spend another hour unloading it and setting up the equipment. Then I spend the next four to five hours sorting through music and would-be singers and entertaining when I can. After a full night of this, I sweat for another hour to load it all up into the truck again, only to drive miles home and unload it again. (I like to be in bed by 2 AM, if at all possible, so I can go to work the next day.)

The pay I get for all of this? Well, the cocktail waitress made more money than I did. And she didn’t have to invest any money other than her outfit that she wore, which by the way, had a designer logo on it. I wonder if that designer gets a royalty for her wearing it in public? I wonder if the bar had to pay the beer company for hanging the neon, Budweiser sign in the front window? Sounds silly, huh? Just think of all the other parallels here! We all, sometimes unknowingly, popularize whatever product we carry with us to show to the rest of the world. The originators should be grateful.

OK, so back to the point. Then why do I do this? “IT’S FUN!!!!” It gives people a fun way to express themselves. For those of you that think karaoke is a joke? YES IT IS! That is the whole purpose behind it. Good singers usually go to auditions, not karaoke. I can say this much about it. It sure beats some of the other scenes you might expect to see in a bar where the main purpose of being there is to see how drunk and obnoxious you can get. The complainers, though the vast minority, are usually the ones that don’t or WON’T sing because they don’t have the nerve to try for fear of ridicule or failure. All you have to do is to go to another bar where it’s dark and loud. A bad karaoke singer who is having the time of their life shouldn’t interfere with YOUR having a “good time.”

By the way, the last time I checked, karaoke music costs more than the original. I wonder who it is that is spending my investment?

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Re: Anonymous Coward

Anyone could tell by your response that you are one of the complainers I mentioned in my first writing. You know, the one who doesn’t have the nerve to do it? So, the only answer you can come up with is commensurate with your pen name here: Anonymous Coward. Go back to your loud and boring bar without karaoke and tie one on, will ya? Maybe you can drink enough to get up the nerve to show everyone how untalented YOU are in addition to your lack of talent to put up a good arguement that we can’t see through. By the way…I DO accept what little payment there is to cover expenses. There’s not enough left for a separate bank account.

Lay Person says:



So ASCAP is trying to prevent Karaoke bars from playing contemporary music hits. This will force Karaoke bars to play outdated and often poorly renditioned versions of even crapier music?

What’s the problem here? This is already the case. Karaoke sucks because all their music is lame! Throw in an amature singer and you get even more crappy music.

I don’t know…I fail to see an issue here.

Now if Karaoke bars actually played decent music, it may even be entertaining to a point. So, see ASCAP? If you let the bars paly contemporary hits it may even help your guys’ pocketbooks, but what do I know…I’m just a lay person…right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Wild, get a clue

Yes Wild, you paid for the right to run your Karaoke so you could go out and profit from it. The Bar did not, and that is who ASCAP is going after, because they are trying to profit from it also. Do you really think they would pay you because they are being kind, or they believe they will sell more booze as a result from having you there.

Personally, I enjoy watching it, think its a good attraction for a bar and does profit the bar owner. Your comments really have nothing to do with the article or the situation. You pay your fees, why shouldn’t the bar?

The key is people want to sing along to songs others have written, and those writers deserve to profit from their talent, if you don’t think they should, then you should try writing songs and have people sing your songs.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Wild, get a clue

Oh those poor, poor writers and singers!!!!!!!!!!!! I remember a concert being cancelled by Michael Jackson because there weren’t, in his opinion, enough $75.00 tickets sold to make it worth his while. He wouldn’t want to get ripped off now would he? And yes, the bars I work for do make a profit that they wouldn’t otherwise make. Are they making money from the music? Yes they are. Is ASCAP making money from the music? YES THEY ARE! Most people buy music to practice with or they bring their own CDs with them. CDs that they BOUGHT. CDs that ASCAP makes money from. CDs that they wouldn’t otherwise buy if there was no karaoke. People can hear the same music for free on the radio, which the last time I checked, was very public. They haven’t reverted to paying subscribers to tune into their station just yet.

The point I was trying to make that you somehow looked past is there are a myriad of parallels out there that don’t get the same kind of scrutiny music does. I think most people presume that once you have paid for something original, IT’S YOURS! The inventor or originator can’t tell you how and what to do with it. Remember that we live in a country of free speech and expression? If the case is different with music only, then there should be a warning label on every piece of music sold in this country. AND a law that specifically states that the label must be in place to sell the music with the stipulation that it is intended for private use only and cannot be played in public. Besides, ASCAP cannot make up their own laws. They can only request that laws be passed to protect their hold on the music industry. It’s all about more money and everyone knows that. If I was in it for the money, then I would certainly do something else. I can make more money waiting tables but then that is no fun, now is it?

Should I send a dollar to “Gant” every time I wear one of their original shirts in public? Some designer came up with the design, sold it to Gant and then Gant sold it to me. If I want to smear mud and blood on it and hang it up in a football stadium for all to see, that’s MY SHIRT! They were already paid for their creation and that was the end of that. BUT, now if I buy a piece of music, even though they have my hard-earned bucks, they have the right to tell me what to do with it from now to the end of time? I think they should refund my money if I can’t do with it as I please. After all, they must consider it to STILL be THEIR piece of music. If it’s still theirs, then what did I pay for? Was it only a loan?

Did the bar send a royalty to the pacman company every time someone put a quarter in their unique machine? Isn’t that a unique, patented form of entertainment that is used and enjoyed in public? Just think of ALL the other things in this world that are sold and used in the same way, but music is a whole, different animal according to ASCAP. I believe they should be protected from anyone copying their products, just like everyone else, but why should they have this kind of control over their product when no one else does? Why should they have control and say-so over a product that is owned by someone else? Doesn’t make sense to me…and most people I ask say the same thing. This is just a very small example of what goes on out there in the real world but examples that are parallel could be written from now til doomsday. Other than copying music, I just don’t see why music should be the exception. Especially when the idiots don’t see what a market they have for all the “voiceless” music that people want to buy. Given the choice, most people would buy the music that sounds just like the original. It would be worth the extra cost. But they ARE selling it through licensing and then telling people that they can’t use it without paying them again and again? No wonder the very different and cheaper versions are so popular these days. Sounds to me like they are blowing up their own gold mine! If they want to make more money, then produce some good karaoke music without all the hitches. Asia would have to find something else to do.

No One Knows says:

What every one is missing is this isn’t just about Karaoke, but all forms of public communication. It is a new twist on greed, and equal rights is the tool being used. If anyone thinks ASCAP, RIAA or another Lawyer based action is for the artist, or the public are just kidding themselves. Winn or loose, the Layers still get paid, the Corp. gets paid, and it’s everyone including the artist, pays in the end. They have just found a new way to make a lot of money by doing what they do best, screwing the public. TV, Radio and Newspapers can’t even utter references to Sporting events, and Holidays with out fear some one is going to step up and sue them. It’s not just the music industry anymore, though it is the newest media being used to beat us with. We had litigation filed ageist the city because we have an old cross overlooking the city, “It offended some Lawyer.” It’s been setting there for over 50 years and had not offended any of the 200K residents before, the truth be known, he couldn’t care less what was up there but this was an easy excuse for this guy to make a cool ¼ million …. The Fix? You tell me….. I can’t afford another law suet….

someartist says:

Mike and Wild....

Obviously you are not artists, so you haven’t a clue about how much effort it takes to make art. It’s likely you make widgets all day, mindless busy work like piecework, sales quotas achieved by a formula or some other type of “production” work. Under those circumstances you can’t fathom the creative process or the business aspects of being an artist and what it all costs the artist in terms of energy.

It’s also obvious that you are not businessmen – ALL artists that want to be successful either have to be businessmen as well as artists OR hire good businessmen to manage their business so they can make a living. This means that most successful smaller artists are BOTH artists and businessmen – 2 jobs with diverse demands. And if they’re not good at both, they don’t survive. Sure there are a very select few who are “picked up and groomed” by patrons (labels, managers, champions like Oprah for instance with her book club) but those are very much the exception and not the rule.

I am an artist so I know this – it’s my life and has been for over a decade. No matter how you want to try to justify your bleating that copyright is not fair (for all the thieves who want to take artists work for free) or it’s conterproductive to innovation, I assure you that you are WRONG. How do I know? Because I am a living breathing artist making $ from my work. And it’s not easy or a cakewalk as you seem to think. If you haven’t walked a mile in someone’s shoes you are not qualified to judge — and BTW, I have worked factory and sales jobs and done production and piecework too, so I know that someone with that level of comprehension cannot understand the life of a working artist.

As for the Verdi “proof” about the “evils of copyright”, Verdi had some dedicated patrons (read people who supported him financially) early on in his career including his future father in-law. And in his mid-career he had a long public affair with an older famous soprano (fame, respect and work won by association – ever heard of Kevin Federline?) Besides which, most artists do have a “productive” period during their lives, a time when they create more work than ever before or after. That has to do with the muse of the artist, not a conscious decision that they can now sit back easily buffeted by all the big bucks copyright is supposedly going to bring to them as you seem to think. And even if you’d like to believe that ridiculous idea is true – that artists sit and vegetate while living off their royalties, consider that artsists are not machines to turn themselves on and do production artwork daily to satisfy the needs of the thieving public that wishes to steal their works from them so they can use the stolen goods to profit for themselves.

Believe me if I thought I could not control my work and make a few bucks to live on through controlling MY PROPERTY THAT I CREATED, I would not continue to be a working artist. I might still be a hobbyist, a damned unhappy one that was forced to give up my work because the rest of the world believes they are entitled to own my property without paying me for it.

That’s the bottom line here: the work artists create BELONGS TO THEM. If you want it, you have to pay what they ask for the use you want. Pay $x if you want to hang it on your wall or listen in the privacy of your home, pay $x times 10 (or some such) if you plan to use the work in advertising to make $$ for yourself. That is only fair and if you were an artist in the real sense of the word, you’d understand this.

More to the point, THIS WHOLE ISSUE IS NOT JUST ABOUT MUSIC. Copyright law includes ALL THE ARTS and AFFECTS ALL ARTISTS and, whether you believe it or not, that AFFECTS YOU DRAMATICALLY.

This issue is clouded by the teeming masses “fighting” the “bad guys” like the record companies and big music corporations. The masses (of sheep!) are bleating about conquering those bad guys by doing away with copyright. But when that happens, 95% of the true artists in this country will not continue working and YOU WILL BE THE LOSER. You will lose the art, music, movies, literature that you now take for granted. You will not have new music, bands, movies, books and art to entertain you – you’ll have to entertain yourself with old reruns and reissues because no one will be making anything new. There won’t be any artists to do that except for a few one-hit wonders stupid enough that they don’t realize they can never make a living without copyright laws. Oh but wait, there will be a few corporate backed “legendary stars” like Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Britney for you, if you like that. Maybe that is what our culture values most….Those corporate guys will make their money in concert sales and merchandising instead of through licensing copyrights. A world full of Paris and Lindsay memorabilia, oh that just kills me to even write it…

Do you recall that Prince once dropped off the face of the earth for several years? Why? Because he wasn’t willing to give away his copyright to the big corporations. He didn’t have enough clout or money to fight them, so he just went underground until his contract with them ran out. WE LOST OUT ON HIS POTENTIAL WORK during that time. Love him or hate him, it doesn’t matter. The point is he was not going to create new work and give it to those people SO HE QUIT CREATING! That is what will happen only on an apolcalyptic scale if copyright protection for artists is removed.

But maybe that is what the teeming masses of sheep are working for, a world without art, without anything of cultural expression, a grey boring world. Maybe they think there has already been enough art created and we don’t need anymore, especially when they get the laws changed to make all that art public property. They can just keep enjoying that same old art over and over and over and over…. Sort of like Karaoke (re-“enjoying” old music) only in ALL GENRES OF ART! ….absolutely revolting and I have a hard time believing that “the public” really wants and intends that outcome.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Mike and Wild....

someartist, you are making some very incorrect assumptions.

Obviously you are not artists, so you haven’t a clue about how much effort it takes to make art.

I have made my living off my words for nearly the last decade.

It’s also obvious that you are not businessmen

I run a very successful business — which has given you this site.

ALL artists that want to be successful either have to be businessmen as well as artists OR hire good businessmen to manage their business so they can make a living.

We agree, absolutely. Unfortunately, too many artists disagree with this notion.

No matter how you want to try to justify your bleating that copyright is not fair (for all the thieves who want to take artists work for free) or it’s conterproductive to innovation, I assure you that you are WRONG. How do I know? Because I am a living breathing artist making $ from my work.

As am I. I just chose a different business model. As you note, you need to be a business person. I was one who realized that relying solely on copyright was not a smart business move. I recognize the trends of where the market was going and decided to adjust my business model accordingly. That allows me to be successful no matter what happens with copyright law. If it stays the same, great. If it goes away, even better.

So, sorry, your “proof” isn’t proof at all. You are claiming an absolute. That copyright is absolutely necessary. You can’t prove an absolute with a single anecdote. However you CAN destroy an absolute with a single anecdote — and it’s easy to prove that copyright isn’t necessary to build a successful business around creative works.

And it’s not easy or a cakewalk as you seem to think. If you haven’t walked a mile in someone’s shoes you are not qualified to judge — and BTW, I have worked factory and sales jobs and done production and piecework too, so I know that someone with that level of comprehension cannot understand the life of a working artist.

Again, give up the condescending “you haven’t been here” crap. I have. And, I agree, it’s no cakewalk at all. It’s a ton of hard work. So, I don’t appreciate the assumption that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

That’s the bottom line here: the work artists create BELONGS TO THEM.

And here’s where you run into trouble. Yes, when you originally create the work, it belongs to you. But, once you release it, sell it, whatever — it belongs to others. Yet, you want to believe that it ALWAYS belongs to you. And that’s what holds back innovation.

But when that happens, 95% of the true artists in this country will not continue working and YOU WILL BE THE LOSER. You will lose the art, music, movies, literature that you now take for granted.

So you claim. But recent research has suggested otherwise. The rise of innovative tools of creation and distribution has actually shown a TREMENDOUS increase in the output of art, music, movies and literature — the vast majority of which was done with no concern for copyright.

You will not have new music, bands, movies, books and art to entertain you – you’ll have to entertain yourself with old reruns and reissues because no one will be making anything new.

For someone who claims to be a “business person” this is a ridiculous statement. If there’s demand, someone will figure out a business model. In fact, if you’ve read this site for any length of time, we’ve highlighted plenty of business models that would support the creation of new content on a regular basis that wouldn’t rely on copyrights and wouldn’t rely on the “patrons” you despise. Just because YOU can’t think of a business model, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Oh but wait, there will be a few corporate backed “legendary stars” like Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Britney for you, if you like that. Maybe that is what our culture values most…

That’s funny. The music I enjoy is in a niche way outside the mainstream. There are very few bands around the world who focus on this type of music. None are signed to major labels, but the really good ones have a huge following and they make a living playing concerts. They don’t care about copyright. They put their songs up as mp3s, they put videos on YouTube and they have MySpace pages promoting their work. They’re still able to sell plenty of CDs, because people like to buy legit products. They sell plenty of merchandise because us fans love to buy it, and they sell out damn near every place they play because we love to see them play.

Do you recall that Prince once dropped off the face of the earth for several years? Why? Because he wasn’t willing to give away his copyright to the big corporations.

Doesn’t that go completely against your point? If copyrights weren’t an issue then he would have been able to go on creating music the way he wanted to. Speaking of which, Prince has done a great job experimenting with new business models that wouldn’t have to rely on copyrights…

So, despite your absolutely incorrect assumptions, you haven’t made much of a point, other than to show that YOU make money off of your copyrights. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to, and it doesn’t mean no one else can be so creative as to come up with business models that work without copyrights. We have. As have plenty of others.

someartist says:

Re: Re: Mike's about economics in the end

I have made my living off my words for nearly the last decade.

I run a very successful business — which has given you this site.

I stand corrected on the businessmen comment. However, I’m not sure building a website by reporting and commenting on technology is art. While your site is very nice, provides some great information and a place for dialogue, it is rather formulaic and doesn’t really require you to strain the artistic skills to keep at it day by day. That is not meant as a slam at all – it’s just the observation that having a website and writing commentary is not exactly considered a high art. As nice as your site is and even though it obviously requires literary skills to write analysis and commentary well, I’m not sure you can compare it to the artistic skill required to compose music, paint, sculpt, create literature, images or drama drawn from the artist’s soul. After all everyone has blogs these days…the hallmark of art is that is touches the soul of the viewer, makes a real impact on their soul and not necessarily that it informs them. Granted art is in the eye of the beholder but I think it’s safe to say that one cannot expect to be swept off their feet reading the latest technology news no matter how insightful or entertaining the commentary is.

We agree, absolutely. Unfortunately, too many artists disagree with this notion.

Yes and this is why so many of the teeming masses seem to think copyright isn’t important to artists – because there are too many STUPID artists who don’t value the rights granted to them by law to own and control their work, their property. These idiots are training the masses to believe an incorrect assumption – that artists don’t need to own their work and should not be allowed to profit from it on their own terms. This generally happens with the beginning artist or those who believe they are bettering the world with their work and claim they do not care if they make money or not with it. If you have a trust fund, a well heeled spouse or a good paying day job, it’s very easy to give away your work for a pittance and be happy to see people “appreciate” your work and your largesse no matter if it’s sheer stupidity to do so. These types are in love with the idea of themself as artist and will become entranced by the idea that their work is being publicized and they will become immortal and important. It doesn’t matter if what they are doing flies in the face of all that is considered sane business practice, they just wanna be famous and see their work in print/published. Well, how many famous artists do you know of that refuse payment for their work and insist on giving it all away? Doesn’t happen because the free for all types never achieve what they seek.

Remember that capitalism is the economic model in this country and it does not have a dictate stating that producers should give away their goods on the hope that they will become famous and reap some nebulous reward in return for giving it all away. If you like the socialist/communist economy better, you can always see if Cuba or Korea or Vietnam will take you in as an immigrant.

That allows me to be successful no matter what happens with copyright law. If it stays the same, great. If it goes away, even better.

…when you originally create the work, it belongs to you. But, once you release it, sell it, whatever — it belongs to others. Yet, you want to believe that it ALWAYS belongs to you. And that’s what holds back innovation.

Oh come on! So if you build your own car from spare parts and park it at the curb IN PUBLIC now I should assume that means I can just take it since you released it into the public view? That is the most illogical argument ever presented when you look at in complete terms of what it could mean.

But are you saying if copyright goes away, it will be great because you can cannibalize other people’s work and profit from it? What will be so great about it for you? You write commentary on technology – what exactly do you need from artists to do your commentary that you do not already have?

There is nothing innovative about stealing other people’s work because you erroneously believe that if they make it public, it belongs to you. This is the law in the US – it has been since the founding of this country and it’s a worldwide precept (Berne Convention) as well. Do you seriously believe that our founding fathers and all the leaders of nearly all the rest of the world were stupid to protect artists right in order to keep stimulating the free flow of real ongoing artistic expression and innovation?

There is nothing innovative about using other people’s work without compensating them for it ON THEIR TERMS SINCE THEY OWN IT. There is nothing innovative about being a copyist. There is nothing innovative about taking someone else’s work, putting it to market under your name and making money from it. That is capitalism but at the present time, it is also illegal and an immoral act of theft.

If you can’t write your own book, movie, play, song or create your own painting, sculpture, etc. without stealing from someone else, you are simply not an artist. And sadly, in our society there are some who think that sampling (music or visual arts) is art. IMO it’s clever but it’s not art on the level of creative art where the artist goes inside to pull out the skill needed to create a new work of art from their soul. And currently according to law, it’s theft unless you pay the original artists for the use of their work.

If there’s demand, someone will figure out a business model.

Yes, that’s correct. The big corporate machines will take over and McDonaldize our art. If that is what you want, then by all means you should definitely support the abolition of copyright. If you enjoy the artistic stylings of the corporate built boy groups, the pouty teen girl pop “singer/actress/celebrity”, the formula driven movies with sequels ad nauseum, and so on, it will definitely be your lucky day when copyright laws no longer protect the artist’s interest.

If copyrights weren’t an issue then he would have been able to go on creating music the way he wanted to.

Actually if you’d read what I wrote, you’d recall that he did not want to give his copyright (read: AND THE CONSIDERABLE VALUE OF IT) to the big music corporations. He was under contract and was compelled contractually to turn over his work to the corporation so they could make $$$ on it. He did not want to give $$$ to them – he wanted the $$$, so he quit working. Period. If he liked giving away his work and felt copyright was useless, he would have continued to work during that time, pumping $$$ into the music corporations coffers and continuing to promote/prolong his own fame through that exposure. And if he is looking for other avenues to make money with his work, it is only because he is being forced to do that by people that strong arm artists out of their work (music companies) or outright steal their work (adoring “fans” and copycat “artists” who feel entitled). In this day and age, all artists have to try to find some way to stem the bleeding of piracy of our works – every theft takes money out of our pocket and the bleating masses just don’t seem to get it that we have to do what we can to survive, from supporting copyright law to finding new revenue avenues.

The music I enjoy is in a niche way outside the mainstream. There are very few bands around the world who focus on this type of music. None are signed to major labels…

And how can you not imagine that if all the regular joe artists (like these that you enjoy and support) are forced out of art and all the big corporate mobs are in control of our culture forcing their few chosen Britneys and Justins down our throats, this situation will not adversely affect this niche, the one you prefer right now? Are you so shortsighted you cannot see that the music landscape *** and in fact THEN ENTIRE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF ALL OF OUR ARTS *** will look like those cookie cutter mass development ticky tack houses that everyone hates and that it will sound like the Britney/Justins we love to hate? Artists with real soul and inspiration DO NOT RUN THE BIG CORPORATE MACHINES. Those are businessmen, highly skilled, well paid and grouped enmasse like sharks on a feeding frezy with a mission to take whatever, wherever they can in order to further their goal of making money. They DO NOT CARE ABOUT ART – their god is money. When these people fully control what we see and hear, we will be at their mercy and it will be a sickening world to live in.

Sure there will be some start up artists here and there trying to break through and share something good, some real art, with the world. But they will be beaten down quickly, before they can really develop into a Bob Dylan or Steven Spielberg, by the very rich and very powerful marketing machines that will completely and totally control the world of intellectual property, our arts.

Why do you think the music companies would like to own the copyrights to music (and other arts like paintings, photography, literature) right now? Why do you think they try to force artists to submit to terms that leave artists with little $$ return for their work? Because there is great value in owning the work of artists – they can use it to market to the masses and make millions. Ever see any ads with popular music running behind it? Ever see any memorabilia with branding photos or artwork on it? All of this corporate domination is only going to get worse when the corporate giants are ALSO granted carte blanche to steal from artists because copyright is repealed after the narrow minded shortsighted bleating masses insist they want to be able to make free copies of any art they like because “it’s their right to do what they want with it after they buy one print, one CD, one download, etc”.

It’s time to go back to your economics lessons – in capitalism we (both home based regular joe artists and big corporate giants) sell (and license) our products for the highest price in order to make the most profit and have the best return on our investment. We safeguard what we own because these are the assets of our business and allow us to continue to be a going concern. Selling for the highest $$$ allows us more time away from the actual production process to improve our skills, mind our stores and workplaces, rest and then regenerate our creative abilities to produce more product. That is true for the artist and for the corporation. The only difference is that the artist has limited $$ and resources and the corporation has nearly unlimited resources – who do you think will prevail? Once the artist is legally denied the right to control their products, the economy suddenly gets very very favorable for the big corporations with nothing else to do except exploit every possible opportunity available to them.

You can argue your points until you are blue in the face. But simple economics will be the deciding factor on this issue. I’m betting that my interpretation is correct. I see a world where the economic advantage of no more copyright protection for the artist will bring the downfall of real art by real artists with the ability to be lifetime (read legendary, important) artists in our world. And I also see the rise of more commercialized, materialistic crap called “art” rammed down our throats by the money grubbing corporate giants you claim you despise. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees though. I’ve just been trying to point out the big picture over the long run.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Mike and Wild....

Obviously you did not read ALL of what I had to say. My point was that once you’ve PAID for a painting, music, or whatever, it should be YOURS to do with as you please. If I buy a lot of paintings and decide to display them and charge a fee for the viewing, I don’t owe any of the artists for charging to see their work. Why should music be any different.

AND…you are WRONG! I have been a musician and singer since I was 16 yrs. old. I’m 58 now, so I am willing to say that I have probably FAR more experience at what I do than you do at what you do. I’ve been through the ropes and the corporate maze of trying to make it in the music industry. I’ve done radio, television, state fairs, theaters and still act and sing at The Scottsdale Community College Center For The Performing Arts. every year around Valentine’s day and have for the last 4 years.

Now if someone out there want’s to sing a song that I wrote or performed, PLEASE let them do it. That only adds to my infamy. I would be flattered. Even Motzart embellished tunes written by others and the other artists were grateful. I wonder if ASCAP was around then? Not EVERYONE in the music business does it for the money, including Motzart, if you remember his biography. He died a pauper and was put into a mass grave. This is what I do for PLEASURE.

I DO agree that no one should be allowed to COPY music for monetary gain. That IS stealing. BUT, when ASCAP tells me that I owe them money because I played music on a radio in my Beauty Salon that my customers listen to, that is absurd. I PAY the radio station by also listening to their sponsors and buying their products and services. If the music wasn’t there, I certainly wouldn’t listen to commercials all day long. Next thing you know, ASCAP will want to charge me for playing the radio in my car because there are six of us in there. Let’s see….six people in a beauty salon, six people in a car or six people in a bar. Is there any difference?

Anonymous Coward says:

Wild and Mike

Wild, Michael Bolton? Wow, I had to stop reading your post after that.

Mike, don’t you have something better to do?

As for the copywrite, mostly, it protects the Record Label, not the musician. Musicians make most of their money off concerts, not on record sales. You could say that who cares if the label doesn’t make money, because they are the big evil company, but take away their profit and they go away.

And anyone that things that after hearing some amateur singing a song in a bar would go out and buy an album is nuts.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Wild and Mike

Anonymous Coward……THANK YOU so much for hitting the nail on the head (Although I’m sure you had not idea that you did.)

You said it…a mouthful. The singer or musician sells his music to the recording company and then it belongs to to music company, not the original artist. Why is it that when the recording company sells it to me, it still belongs to them? I paid them just like they paid the artist.

If I buy paintings or sculptures from you and put them in my restaurant (public place) for all to see, do I have to pay you a royalty? I am most certainly making money off of it because your art is what makes the ambience in my place of business. That is what my customers are paying for. The decor in my place of business helps to justify the prices I charge for the food I serve. Everyone in the restaurant business knows this. The answer is that I paid for them and now they belong to me. I don’t owe you a dime more than I already paid to you.

And yes…..Bolton. If either of us had his money, we wouldn’t be in here writing all this crap.

Me and a couple cents says:

Let's draw a line

Art is an important part of most peoples lives. So is electricity and insurance. I’m sure that very few of us are grateful for the necessity of having to pay out for these things. Please don’t make art another “pay up or suffer without” part of our lifes.

We all enjoy art ,including music, but don’t think yourself so high and mighty for creating it that you’ll want some payolla every time someone hums your tune or hangs a picture in their home. Copyright should protect the artist from plagurism and duplication for sale, but it shouldn’t be an unending cash cow for legal eternity. I don’t care if current law supports your world view and I don’t even care if the constitution does, they’re not the words of Gods. Jefferson wasn’t any smarter then most any other politician.

Would you suggest that the artistic Amish chair I purchased pay a few cents back to the artist every time somebody other then myself sits in it or even looks at it? Now if I were to duplicate the chair myself and sell it for my own profit then that could be considered wrong. Even if I put my own touch to it, it still looks like an Amish chair and not a Jim chair.

I will not bow down to the artist and praise him/her for the enrichment to my life. I will say thank you and appreciate him/her in my heart. I may even pay to have one of what they’re selling, but once they have my money, thank you is all they’re getting. If this kind of thinking were to end art then that’s better then extortion.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: Let's draw a line

Couple of Cents: Thank you so much for the comments that you made. It’s refreshing to know that there are people in the world who see straight without the extortion money blurring their vision.

I have yet to have any one proponent of the copywrite law in this forum logically explain to me why music is so special and set apart and exempt from the rest of the artistic contributions that are made in this world. Why do you buy a painting or a sculpture or any other artistic contribution for sale and their yours to do with as you please but if you buy a sheet of music or a CD, it is not yours and you have to pay for it again and again until the end of time at the discretion of ASCAP? Maybe by now you are beginning to see that there is something to this extortion thing only when it comes to music?

I agree 100% with “Me and My Couple of Cents.” It IS wrong to copy music or any other artistic contribution and resell it for monetary gain. I can agree with the law up to that point. It’s the ownership of the product and using it as I see fit, aside from copying and selling, after I’ve paid for it that I have a problem with. I can’t think of one artistic contribution to mankind where you have to pay for it again and again, except for music. Can you? Why should that be so different? I can take any other form of art and do whatever I please with it in public except music. Why is that?

And Mike, I would consider your contribution to mankind, your writing, to be just as creative and just as artistic as anyone who paints or sings. People who write great stories and books are VERY talented, much more so than someone who paints or sings, in my opinion. You are not BORN with the ability to write. That takes YEARS and lots of study and hard work and a clever mind to develop. We have lots of painters and singers in their 20s but I don’t know anyone that young that can write. My hat is off to you.

I think I should mention that not long ago, a growing group of country singers got tired of the “Nashville Dictatorship” and guess what? Most of them now go to Branson, Missouri. Just goes to show that if people will come together, things CAN be accomplished for the better. And, oh by the way, although this was a huge change that went against the traditional grain, the business model is better now than it ever has been

Fingers are sore and so is the brain. Goodnight!.

someartist says:

copyright law

is very clear about this question:

Why do you buy a painting or a sculpture or any other artistic contribution for sale and their yours to do with as you please but if you buy a sheet of music or a CD, it is not yours and you have to pay for it again and again…

No, the painting or sculpture is NOT yours to do with what you wish. The artist owns and controls the original and all duplicates or likenesses of his work. He most likely sells the piece to the public, end users who will use it personally. So in all those cases, you have purchased a piece of art AND the right to use it for your OWN PERSONAL USE because that is all the rights the artist has granted you when you purchased the print (just like with a CD or with software). You HAVE NOT purchased the rights to use it commercially (in a bar, brochure, store, etc.) or editorially (in a magazine or on an editorial website) or to reproduce it in order to generate money for yourself or another entity (e.g. the karaoke DJ or the bar he spins in, the store or other business it’s used to promote/enhance).

For example, you might purchase a print at a gallery and hang it in your home. That is personal use. If you wanted to use a copy of that print to put on your company’s brochure or website, you would have to purchase the COMMERCIAL rights to do that. And they would cost considerably more than the print you bought for your wall. Why? Because the value that commercial use brings you — increased income via publicity and promotion for your business via association with that piece of art — is much higher than the value of hanging a pretty piece on the wall in your home.

Don’t you see the difference?

The only reason you erroneously believe that all the other artists outside of music don’t have rights to control their work (and the money they charge for it) is because you are not trying to work with other art. You are involved with karaoke music so you think it’s different than the rest of the arts in terms of copyright law. It’s not. All artists are given the same protections under copyright. Musicians just have a bit more muscle because they (or their agents or music companies) contract with RIAA and ASCAP who act as protectors of their copyright, forcing people who are stealing commercial uses of intellectual property into paying up.

I certainly agree that CDs (music and software) purchased by the public for personal use (NOT for public entertainment) should come with the right to make a back up copy of them because CDs do go bad and that right to have a back up seems only fair to the buyer. It is not fair for the buyer of these CDs to expect to be able to use them for public entertainment TO MAKE MONEY (in a bar, business, etc.). The use of art in a commercial setting enhances the ambiance and draws people in. That is what makes it a commercial use. Whether that’s music playing or art on the walls, it’s the same enhancement to someone’s ability to make money. So the artist should be paid for helping someone else be more successful in their business. That seem pretty straightforward and fair to me.

I cannot see what there is to complain about really. If you want to use someone else’s property, you have to pay. It’s as simple as that. And it’s the law. If you don’t like it, you’ll have to be a thief and steal. But you shouldn’t go crying when you get caught and have to pay the piper. I’m sure if you look back, your parents taught you never to steal and that there were consequences if you did. That is part of the real world.

Wild About Karaoke says:

Re: copyright law

Someartist….that is the most absurd and untrue thing I have ever heard of. Perhaps you should check out the restaurants and such in your area, have a look at all the paintings, sculptures, etc. that is displayed and then ask them if they are paying a royalty or fee for displaying them. THAT is REALITY. The only ones collecting fees for “publicly displayed art” in restaurants/bars is the music industry and everyone knows that. Where have you been all your life? No one is copying the art; just displaying it as part of the decor. They don’t pay fees for that. In FACT, most of the time it’s the other way around. Artists pay to display their wares in public places to generate sales and give part of the proceeds to the people who display them. THAT is REALITY.

In reality, we are talking about two different and distinct things here: copying and using. Again, I wholeheartedly agree that art, in any form, should not be copied. My arguement is that if I pay for it, it’s MINE to do with as I please. Whatever the law is makes no difference when it comes to opinion. This country is overflowing with bad laws and some so ridiculous that one even wonders how they ever got on the books. Most of those laws are lobbied to make the rich even richer and everyone knows that too.

What YOU have here, is a double standard. It’s OK for ASCAP, BMI, etc. to BUY the music from the artist and do with it as they please but it’s not OK for me to do that. Once thae artist signs on the dotted line, that piece of music BELONGS to ASCAP, etc. THEY are the ones that orchestrate the collections from then on. They are the ones that profit the most from the artists original work. It’s OK for them to profit from it but not me. Even though the both of us paid relative amountsffor the same thing. The artist only gets pennies on the dollar for what they collect and THAT is what Prince was fighting. Prince has already proven that he doesn’t need ASCAP or anyone else to survive as an artist. Ray Charles was probably the first to conceive this notion. Knowing what he knew about this kind of scam, he insisted that he retain the rights to his songs when they signed him on to record labels. AND HE DID. It was a FIRST for any record company to ever do that. He had the leverage, using his talent, to get his way with this. But then ASCAP, BMI, etc. will try to make everyone else believe that the artist will make more money if they use their corporate clout. Ray Charles has already proved that to NOT BE THE CASE. Prince is right behind him and I’m sure that more will follow suit as soon as they wake up and wise up. ASCAP, etc., are just corporate strongarms that are twisting the publics arms to give them “protection money.” Dont’ YOU see the difference?

Me and a couple cents says:

Stupid Law

The ‘law’ may grant the right to the artist to control their works in most ways, but it’s a stupid right to grant. It may seem right and fair to you that you be allowed that level of control, but that just makes you your own personal dictatorship government who wants to control all aspects of everyone’s lives. Give it up.

I was looking at a demo of a xbox360 soccer game and noticed the advertisements for many different companys surrounding the field. I suppose the the software company should pay Gillette for the use of their logo. hmmm. Doesn’t work that way, does it? I’m sure Gillette, Budweiser, and Tampax (hehe) pay big bucks to the software manufacturer for adding them to the game. It should work the same for music. I’d hear the song in a bar or on the radio or even played by a local band..and I’d therefore be exposed to the song and if I liked it, buy it. Exposure generates sales. In my job, I’m happy that my customers let others use the products they buy because it drives sales. (“I used my sister’s Dyson vac and I liked it so much I’d like one too!”)

Now I think I’ll get my wallet out to pay Gillette, Bud, Tampax, and Dyson for the privelidge of using their names.

MusicLover says:

Karaoke versus Song Renditions

I was thinking about this topic the other day, and I was wondering, “what is the difference between karaoke and a popular artist’s own rendition of a given song?”

An artist’s rendition not a parody because the lyrics are almost an exact duplicate (if not a complete duplicate), the tune is similar (maybe a pitch higher or lower), and the main difference is that the singer is different, and his/her way of singing is slightly different to somewhat different (but not totally different) from the original singer.

A lot of music artists should’ve been sued for “copying” their songs, if you think about it… some of the songs re-rendered are after 1985, and the tune isn’t that much different from the original.

But you don’t see artists getting sued for making their own renditions of a song, do you?

What’s so unique about a karaoke that you actually have to be charged with “copyright violation”? It’s just the instrumentals of a given song, and the karaoke singer has as much a right as a popular singer to make his/her own rendition of the song — no matter how badly he/she would render the song.

If we stick to the idea that only material before 1985 isn’t protected by copyright law, then you’d see a lot of 1980s and 1970s songs in karaokes… which in some karaoke bars really is the case (by the way, a lot of good songs really do date back to the 1980s and earlier).

But why limit yourself to 1985? What’s wrong with singing your own rendition of any song? Just because you didn’t write the lyrics or compose the music, does it mean that you can’t sing the song in public especially if the instrumentals are available?

Before you guys go harassing karaoke singers, maybe you ought to go after the likes of WestLife, Britney Spears, etc. first, for “copying” the songs of other singers.

someartist says:

uh, MusicLover...artists who remake songs

PAY A HEFTY LICENSING FEE TO THE OWNERS OF THE MUSIC. That’s why you don’t see people like Britney being prosecuted for copyright infringement. As artists, they realize they need to PAY FOR THE COMMERCIAL USE OF SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY BECAUSE IT IS MORAL, RIGHT AND THE LAW. It’s very simple. You just have to force yourself to believe in reality.

And WILD ABOUT KARAOKE, licensing fees are REALITY. Just today on the news, a piece disclosed that 48% of the revenue generated by the Muppets (yeah, those puppets) comes from licensing. That would be licensing of the likeness of the characters on everything from pencils to tshirts, photos and posters, toys, music, videos, the ongoing series, etc.

Just because you don’t realize licensing fees are rolled into prices you pay does not mean they are not there.

Yes, you do pay a few more cents for your meal when restaurants license great art for their dining room TO MAKE A CERTAIN ATMOSPHERE. That ability to make the atmosphere they desire THAT WILL ENHANCE THEIR ABILITY TO MAKE MONEY is the value they receive from the use of an artist’s work. That value is what they are paying for when they buy prints for $200 or $500 or $1000 including a license for commercial display instead of buying $50 posters that do not include licensing for public display which is intended for the generation of atmosphere to enrich the buyer’s business. If they try to cheap out with the $50 posters, they are breaking the law and ripping off the owner of the work that is enriching them.

You can be assured that as good business owners, those restaurant owners ARE increasing their prices slightly to cover these costs. It may only be 10 or 25 cents per item but the cost recapture is there. If they don’t cover these costs of doing business and the rest of their overhead, they’ll be out of business in no time.

Here’s a little something to ponder: Consider a little pasta joint where the pasta bowls are beautiful handmade pieces made by the chef’s wife. Chef and wife run the little eatery together and do all they can to make it a great restaurant. It would be the same thing – out of business – if everyone came in, ordered a dinner and then insisted they owned the bowl and would be taking it home with them when in fact, they are just licensing the bowl for a specific use — to eat that one meal from. If they wanted to own the bowl forever (and in so doing, enrich themselves with a beautiful bowl while taking that asset away from the restaurant owner forcing him to buy/make another) they would need to pay significantly more than the price of that one meal since they would be depriving the owner of the ability to make more money using that same bowl.

Licensing is not just about making money with what you own (your creations). It is about controlling it so you can make the most amount of money. Do you really think that the Stones would be able to license their songs for 6 or 7 figures for use in ads if they had let them be used for every Tom, Dick and Harry pedestrian use for the past 30 years? No, the big 3 automakers and other large corporations would NOT pay big bucks for a song that had been overused in the market place, promoting way too many low brow and low class products over the years. It would not matter how popular the song was, it would be considered tainted if it had been associated with too many other market identities. These buyers will pay big for the use of a song that has been kept pristine — not used excessively in the marketplace.

And the Stones as owners of their music have every right to keep their work pristine over years, speculating that with time, they can indeed make big bucks licensing their well guarded songs. After all, they created it, they took the risk that by holding it back, perhaps turning down many of those cheapie, low class uses over the years, they might make some real money with it someday. It’s a risk but it’s the right of the creator/owner of the work. Thieves and n’er do wells who feel entitled to take what they want of intellectual property have no right to interfere and interrupt this right of property ownership (control of use) by using it without permission and the purchase of proper licensing. It’s morally, ethically and legally wrong.

dansmith says:

The point of copyright law....

it sounds good in theory – but if you are honest you will admit that only a very few benefit from the copyrights and primarily the huge companies.

Yes I agree that an artist should make more money the more successful that a persons ideas are, but in reality how many times have the artist that created the work been ripped out of it by the large music companies lawyers that made contracts with the artist that were so tight twisted dealings with the artists – such as Bob Denver that died almost broke because he – being the star of Gilligans Island – got nothing for his acting and making the show what it became

Anonymous Coward says:

Stupid Law

You’re a moron. The difference between using your sister’s Dyson to clean your house and using that Dyson to copy and create your own version of it for monetary gain is so vast that if you can’t see it you’re probably blind. I wonder how great you would feel about it if I did that and cut you out of the sales loop. No one is saying that if you hear a song in the bar on the radio that the artist needs to be paid. What is being said is that if the music is being used by the karaoke group, or the bar itself, to generate additional business and the artist or rights holder is not being paid then you are in voilation of the law. You are using someone else’s intellectual property with out their being recompensated.

So you think it’s stupid that the law grants you ownership over your own creative work and that doing so makes you a “personal dictatorship government”? Sound more like you have issues with capilatism and you obviously think socialism is better. Too bad it’s not.

The concept of owning that which you create should seem fairly obvious to even the most basic of salesmen. Take a look at the pharmceutical field. Companies invest billions of dollars in researching, testing and making sure the medicines you get are the best. Yes, I said billions. And in return these companies are granted a 20 year ownership over the formula thereby ensuring that they will be allowed to hopefully recoup their investments.

I assume that you think it’s better to force them to not only invest these BILLIONS but then they also should be required to make the meds and distribute them for free? You are such a fool.

Of course Gillette, Bad and a myriad of other companies pay big bucks to have their products shown in games. First, it lowers the cost to the company creating the game thereby increasing their profits. Second, those companies get ther advertising placed into a very focused area which will increase their brand awareness which may also lead to increased sales. Do you even stop to think about what you are talking about ot do you just blabber away? Hell, in new XBOX games the ad will be routinely updated provided that you are playing the game online.

The plain and simple matter of the fact is that a person’s intellectual property is protected by law and that’s exactly the way it should be. So long as people are afforded some hope that they will be able to regain some of their investment then new innovations will be made.

omnione says:

the whole industry is a rip off

these people are parasites,and totally discuss me,
is just politics and bullshit. but just like a politician
you have to conform to their ways its fucked up when you have people making money by legally stealing ( oxymoron )
and ones that do having success, example gretchen wilson
big and rich and their whole muzik mafia ( what does that name tell you ), john rich a renown song thief he is someone who goes to bars and jams and steals their work (tin pan alley )and this s.o.b. is ascap songwriter of the year, what a crock of shit!( don’t buy their shit) well the buck stops here fuck the music industry its full of nothing but thieves and liars, they are the most ruthless fucks I have ever seen, and whats more fucked up is that it legal, this is where real artists need to get together and form a coalition to ban together and flip these leeches tha fucking fucking bird,sadly with out political support it probably won’t happen, we need someone like sonny bono
to help and make laws against this it should be illegal, but it starts with me FUCK YOU ALL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DJ Steve Knight says:


Unfortunately it is still going on. In New Orleans, the French Quarter Karaoke hotspot is the Cat’s Meow. The club and the DJ were literally shut down because no performance fees were paid to ASCAP, and the DJ was actually sued because some of the music titles being played were downloaded on a computer hard drive. Now the once-famous club is relagated to playing a 180 song list. That gets old QUICKLY.

DJ Steve Knight says:


Unfortunately it is still going on. In New Orleans, the French Quarter Karaoke hotspot is the Cat’s Meow. The club and the DJ were literally shut down because no performance fees were paid to ASCAP, and the DJ was actually sued because some of the music titles being played were downloaded on a computer hard drive. Now the once-famous club is relagated to playing a 180 song list. That gets old QUICKLY.

christian says:

artistic work

you may call this “bull shit” but the record companies are not the only people who earn from performance charges, artists also receive money. You can say well they earn enough anyway but the truth is the more money is taken from them from illegal downloads, physical piracy and criminals not paying thier PRS lisences. It’s not easy to write songs and record them and play them, its a hard job and a lisence isnt alot!! deal with it! its the LAW! If you break it you ARE a criminal…

Average Joe says:


So I start getting these letters and phone calls all of a sudden from ASCAP. They even send Invoices with the letters. It’s almost like they are assuming I’m playing music in my businesses. My shops are under 2000 sq ft and all we play is public radio. It’s almost like a shakedown from ASCAP. It pisses me off that they tried to make me pay even though I play no CDs or MP3s in my businesses. Who are these turds and how can they enforce this anyway?

doug says:

More bad news.

Whole hartedly AGREE w/you and as far as MR blake HE is karaoke perfomer in one way or another how FOS can you be growing up and not filing and in effect STEALING someone elses work ( in your head) and then playing “cover songs” or here’s a good one, “back-up” tracks (KARAOKE–except u don’t let anybody else sing)!!!!!! Everybody get off your high horses we’re all thieves!!! Few exceptions like Jackson Browne prob would be flatered by poor old bastards like us singing our respective hearts out for them and giving props to ORIGINALL ART!!! HOWEVER ,rich polticians,and and corporations steal their crap all the time and make LOADS OF $$$$$—GROW SOME NUGGETS ASCRAP and go after the big boys!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ted Jankowski (user link) says:

Pathetic Leeches

Chuck I believe you got it right. If ASCAP/BMI etc. would invest in creating a Karaoke program that would help hosts do their job and record and track their plays so that hosts could pay them monthly the whopping .08??? cents per play. Most would be more then happy to comply. Especially if the program did everything they wanted it to do and was free. But ASCAP and BMI got their payment. Most hosts and bar owners don’t have a clue about these silly laws. It’s like having to pay for singing happy birthday. Major restaurants don’t sing it and have their own. And practically and even legally speaking. I’m not paying them when we sing it to family members either.

But, it would seem to me it would be cheaper to help the industry pay them. Then spend all their time suing and chasing them all over the country. But as in politics. Ya gotta give a job to someone ya know.

Ted Jankowski (user link) says:

How much do you have to give?

Actually, I know more songs now because of Karaoke than If I actually listened to the radio. Which I Don’t every often. Personally, I prefer many of the people I hear all the time over the original.

It just seems to me that when you buy the disc. You should be able to play it when ever and where ever ya want. Does this mean when I’m driving in my car and have the songs playing as I’m practicing that I purchased and am playing on my CD player I now have to pay them because I’m singing and the windows are down. I used to be just worried about people laughing. Now They might want to sue me.

Outsidethebox (profile) says:

The Big Karaoke Crackdown

Why isn’t the Music Industry;
“Cracking Down” on Music Pirates?
The Karaoke Jocky (KJ) & The DJs who are
ruining the industry by either buying 1 set of CDGs or CDs & Burning multiple coppies
(Blank CDs with magic marker labels or coppied labels)
This is done so the show owner can hire multiple DJs to perform at different locations!
They may also be using coppies of music they borrow from their friends or illegaly downloaded music!
The Industry, allows 1 burned “Arcive” Disc; but that is supposed to remain in the possession of the DJ.
Only the “Original Purchased Copy” is for
“Public Performance”.
They are allowed to make 1 copy
to a different format…(Example CD to MP3) but they must have the “Original Purchased Copy” at their
“Public Performance” with them!
With the current formats available; only a few companies have started using digital markers
to stop Piracy at the source!
If the Karaoke Music is Legally Purchaced;
The Music Industry should,
Leave The Venue & The KJ Alone!!!
If the Music is found to be Illegal,
Arrest That Pirate & Save The Music industry!!!

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