Playing copyrighted music, even from a legally purchased source like a CD, in a public place, constitutes a “public performance” of the music under copyright law. That means restaurants owe money to the licensing companies, which in turn pay some percentage of the fee to the artist as royalties. BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, the three major licensing companies, have scouts who check out restaurants and other venues to make sure their licensing is legitimate. Fosters American Grille in Raleigh, N.C., played songs by Michael and R.Kelly, and lost a lawsuit last month that cost $30,450 in fines and $10,700 in attorney’s fees.
Source: SFWeekly & MJWN