What are my responsibilities under the United States Copyright Law? What is a "Public Performance?" How can I possibly obtain permission from the copyright owners of every song on my jukebox? What is the JLO? I already have licenses with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Why do I need
If you own or operate a jukebox (coin-operated phonorecord player), you need to know that the United States Copyright Law protects the copyright owners of the music played on the jukebox. This brochure explains your responsibilities under the U.S. Copyright Law for licensing these public performances of copyrighted music (or songs) on your jukebox.
Under the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, Section 106), copyright owners (i.e. songwriters and/or music publishers) have the exclusive right to authorize public performances of their music. This means you may not publicly perform copyrighted songs without the prior permission of the copyright owner or their designated representative(s).
To perform a song "publicly" means to perform (or play) it at a place open to the public (e.g., restaurants, bars and arcades) or at any place where a substantial number of people outside of a normal circle of family, friends or social acquaintances is gathered (e.g., fraternal organizations and country clubs).
As a practical matter, it would be very difficult to do so. The Jukebox License Office (JLO) understands the enormous burden and impracticality of such a task for you as a business person. The JLO makes it convenient and economical for you to obtain the permission you need for your jukebox by serving as a "clearinghouse" that provides authorization to perform virtually every copyrighted song in the United States and much of the world.
The JLO is a joint venture of the United States performing rights organizations, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC combined represent essentially every copyrighted song in the United States and much of the world. The JLO offers a license known as the Jukebox License Agreement which provides total access to all songs in the ASCAP, BMI and SESAC repertories. The Jukebox License Agreement is a single, economical, annual license that provides the authorization required to publicly perform copyrighted songs on your jukebox. Once you are licensed with the JLO, you will receive a certificate that must be displayed in the title strip holder of each jukebox you operate.
You don't. You have the choice of obtaining jukebox licenses from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC directly or you may contact each copyright owner individually. The Jukebox License Agreement, however, generally costs less, is more convenient, and is less of an administrative burden than these other options. If you have an establishment where music is performed by some means other than the jukebox (DJ's, bands, tapes, etc.), you will still need separate licenses from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (or the individual copyright owners) covering these other performances. The Jukebox License Agreement only provides authorization for jukebox performances.
Your jukebox, or "coin-operated phonorecord player," qualifies for the Jukebox License Agreement if it is a machine or device that:
If your jukebox fails to meet any of these criteria, it does not qualify as a "coin-operated phonorecord player" under the Copyright Law and performances on that jukebox cannot be licensed through the JLO. If your jukebox does not qualify for the Jukebox License Agreement, you must contact ASCAP, BMI and SESAC directly, or the copyright holders themselves, to obtain authorization to perform music lawfully. If you are uncertain about any of these requirements, please contact us at the number listed on the home page.
Examples of jukebox performances NOT covered by the Jukebox License Agreement include, but are not limited to, jukeboxes...
- that are set on free play;
This license does not cover any device which: (i) receives and/or sends transmisions (i.e. downloads or streams) of musical works; and/or (ii) employs a hard drive for the storage of digital phonorecords or other recorded musical compositions.
No. The right to publicly perform a copyrighted song in an establishment is controlled by the copyright owner (songwriter and/or music publisher), not record companies who sell the compact disc, cassette or record. When you buy musical product, it is intended for private listening. The purchase of musical product does not entitle the buyer to perform a copyrighted song in a public setting. That right must be granted by copyright owners or their representative(s). The JLO and performing rights organizations license this performance right on behalf of the copyright owner.
The JLO distributes approximately 95% of all money collected directly to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, who, in turn, distribute royalties to the songwriters and music publishers they each represent. The remaining 5% of fees collected cover the JLO operating expenses.
If you perform copyrighted songs without the required authorization, you are infringing upon someone's copyright and violating the U.S. Copyright Law. You risk legal action and, if you are a vending company, under certain circumstances, your location may be liable for copyright infringement as well. It is important for you to know that each unauthorized performance on your jukebox constitutes a separate act of copyright infringement which could cost you a minimum of $750 and up to a maximum of $150,000 per unauthorized performance. The JLO's annual licensing fee is minimal compared to the potential costs of infringement.
You can contact the Nashville Chapter of the Better Business Bureau where the JLO and its affiliated organizations, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, are all registered. You can contact the Better Business Bureau at:
The Jukebox License Agreement provides access to the combined repertories of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC which represent practically every piece of copyrighted music in every format and style including Rock, Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary, Country, Gospel, Latin, Tejano, Rap, Jazz, Classical, Folk, Blues, Big Band, Show Tunes, Christian, Reggae, New Age, Children's, Seasonal music and more.
If you don't perform copyrighted music, you don't need a license from the JLO. To determine whether a particular musical composition is in the repertories licensed by the JLO, you may call the organizations directly at the following toll-free numbers:
- ASCAP 615-742-5017
- BMI 888-689-5264
- SESAC 800-826-9996
You may also access information about ASCAP, BMI and SESAC from their websites located at these Internet addresses:
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