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Connecticut Town Tells ASCAP, BMI, SESAC To Get Lost Over Royalty Bills

from the get-lost! dept

Three years ago, the town of New Milford, Connecticut got a bill from ASCAP demanding $280 in licensing fees, because the local town center sometimes will have music playing. Even at that amount, the mayor felt it was ridiculous, since it was a municipality playing music for non-profit community purposes. So the town council voted to ignore the bill, tabling it "indefinitely." As far as I know nothing else has happened between ASCAP and New Milford, but reader Bill Waggoner recently alerted us to the news that BMI and SESAC -- the other two collection societies in the US -- sent bills to New Milford as well. BMI's was a whopping $3,000. SESAC's was $1,500.

After being asked about it, BMI realized that it had made a "mistake" in calculating the bill, and lowered it to $305 (funny that they don't make mistakes in the other direction, do they?). However, the town council has told them to go take a hike. "They're not going to get that either" was the quote from council member Roger Szendy. The town's mayor, Patricia Murphy, says she's standing up for the principle of the whole thing, claiming that it's silly that a municipality should have to pay. BMI apparently says it's not going to sue, but it hopes that the city will "do the right thing."

I'm guessing that BMI (and ASCAP) realize it would be a public relations nightmare to sue a municipality, but if other cities start taking similar principled stands, you have to wonder if they'd reconsider.

Side Note: As regular readers know, it's our common practice to link to our source for information on stories. In this case, however, our main source is The News Times. I had the story about this open in my browser for a few days before getting around to writing it up. Then I discovered that The News Times locks up its content after a few days. So... I can no longer actually get to the article or send any traffic to the newspaper site. Perhaps I don't quite get the economics of news publishing, but I would imagine ad traffic from a bunch of our readers visiting their site would greatly outweigh the expected value of people actually paying $3 to read the article (yes, that's what they want). Oh well. I guess it's just their loss.

Filed Under: collections societies, connecticut, new milford
Companies: ascap, bmi, sesac


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  1. identicon
    Michael L. Slonecker, 25 Jun 2009 @ 11:21am

    For a town with an annual budget in the order of $30M+, the mayor comes across as a cheapskate.

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