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. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 25 Jun 2009 @ 5:39pm

    The real problem here is ....

    The real problem with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC from the 30 minutes of research I have done is one line from their web site "www.ascap.com/copyright.html" the line is ....

    .... (in the future you will be able to "opt out") ....

    How many of these artists opted in?

    What I see on the ascap web site is legalese for we did this for your own protection, and no we wont pay you a dime of the money we are making.

    What is needed here is an opt in system, not an opt out one ....

    Big Ole GRIN .... yet again thanks to mike for bringing this Gem to my attention...

    202 entry/note) Create an organization where people can opt in as opposed to out for lyrics/sheet music.

    203) Create software/apps/web site for liscence management of Sheet music and and lyrics

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