The duplication of copyrighted music without paying the appropriate licensing fees is a very serious issue, and one that should not be taken lightly. It is essential to remember that it is the act of duplication, not the act of selling what one has duplicated that creates the infringement. Tresóna Compliance's dedicated and experienced staff is uniquely situated to help bring your program into compliance as quickly and as painlessly as possible. This can usually be done by taking care of pre-arranged agreements that Tresóna has negotiated with the publishing community that allows a school to step forward and pay the fees that would normally have been due.
The most common infractions that Tresóna Clients are exposed to are arrangements where no documented permissions can be located, compact discs that have been manufactured an ddistributed without the mechanical licenses being obtained and paid for, video streaming of copyrighted music without obtaining synchronization licenses, and copying sheet music without permissions. Because each infringement can bear a penalty of $150,000 per act of infringement, Tresóna acts quickly to ameliorate these infringements and obtain the appropriate releases.
Our primer on copyrights is a very good read, and should help guide you safely through the issues involved in proper copyright compliance. You can download your free copy of this booklet here.
A few notes about Mechanical Licenses
A mechanical license is the type of license used to manufacture and distribute audio-only products, such as albums, compact discs and audiocassettes. Think of it as making a mechanical copy or recording of the song. Mechanical licenses come in two varieties: negotiated and compulsory. A business interested in using a song usually tries to negotiate a mechanical license, and if unsuccessful, they seek a compulsory license. The compulsory license is the only one in which the Copyright Act sets out a specific method to obtain a valid license without the consent of the copyright owner. This compulsory license is subject to legal constraints, such as "first use" authorization, mandated accounting procedures, and a statutory rate of royalty payment.
Section 115 of the Copyright Act provides for a compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords (audio-only devices, such as vinyl records, audio tapes and compact discs), when:
Recordings of the music have previously been sold to the public in the United States under a valid license from the copyright owner;
The party wishing to license the music notifies the copyright owner;
The statutory royalty is be paid for each copy manufactured and distributed, with royalties paid monthly.
The statutory rate for mechanical royalties is currently 9.1 cents for a recording up to 5 minutes in length. For recordings over 5 minutes in length, the rate is 1.75 cents per minute, or portion thereof. Return to Tresóna Multimedia Home Page.
Synchronization licensing addresses the act of combining, or synchronizing, audio works to video works. A "sync" license is necessary whenever a visual image is accompanied by sound. This most often involves television programs, commercials, videos or motion pictures, but can also involve computer games, Internet sites and other media not yet developed.
Synchronization licensing is another part of the right of reproduction granted exclusively to copyright owners under the Copyright Act. Although "synchronization" is not mentioned specifically, publishers are given the exclusive right to authorize the reproduction of their music in copies, such as television programs, motion pictures and home videos. In other words, publishers can grant the right for producers to synchronize their music with a visual image, either on video or film. This grant is usually non-exclusive and is entirely at the songwriter's or publisher's discretion. Return to Tresóna Multimedia Home Page.
Penalties for Infringement
The remedies provided by the law to a copyright owner mean that a music educator or church member and his/her institution or association or an individual artist found making unlicensed illegal copies, or otherwise infringing, may face:
- Payment of from $500 to $20,000 statutory damages and if the court finds willfulness, up to $150,000 per copyright infringed.
- If willful infringement for commercial advantage and private financial gain is proved, criminal fines of up to $250,000 and/or five years' imprisonment, or both.