ASCAP Now Demanding License From Venues That Let People Play Guitar Hero
from the can't-listen-without-paying-up dept
We’ve been detailing how the various collection societies around the globe have been trotting out all sorts of dubious reasoning to try to get more people to pay up for a license. In the US, ASCAP has been particularly ridiculous, seeking public performance licenses for (legally licensed) ringtones as well as the 30-second previews you find on music download stores like iTunes. ASCAP has already succeeded in forcing YouTube to pay up as well. Of course, the end result has actually been harming many up and coming songwriters and musicians, as more and more venues are choosing to forego music entirely, because it’s just not worth having to pay up the fees that ASCAP charges.
In the latest overreach, sent in by reader faceless, ASCAP is demanding a licensing fee from a venue that has the video game Guitar Hero for people to play. While the venue does sometimes have live musicians, it has purposely chosen to only allow original music (no covers) from artists and songwriters not covered by ASCAP, to avoid having to pay the fee. As the venue owner notes, it’s ridiculous to think that the venue should have to pay for a license just to let people play Guitar Hero, saying, “patrons are paying for the entertainment of the game not for the listening value of the music.” But, of course, that’s not how ASCAP views any of these things, insisting that the value itself comes from the music, and thus the songwriters must absolutely be paid. Of course, this isn’t the first time ASCAP has come down hard on music video games. Earlier this year, it insisted that the video game companies themselves should pay performance licensing fees as well — so in this case it looks like they’re trying to double or triple dip.
Of course, the most likely end result? The venue will drop the game, and fewer people will hear the music. This harms everyone — the songwriters, the musicians, ASCAP and the venue. But ASCAP seems to think it’s the right move. This is why more and more musicians are recognizing that what’s good for ASCAP is not good for songwriters.