Playing music and video to the public - what does it involve?


Collective rights management organizations do not enjoy a good reputation both among entrepreneurs and very often among the artists themselves, whose rights they manage. We hear more and more voices about the need to reform these institutions, but so far they are doing well and are not indifferent to entrepreneurs.

Radio and TV subscription

Companies are obliged to pay for a radio and television subscription, as long as they have a device used to receive these programs. This obligation applies to every company, even if the signal received by it reaches only employees. Another thing is playing music and video in public, i.e. a situation in which, for example, music from a radio or a player is also heard by customers. Then, you should additionally settle accounts with collective management organizations that hold the copyright to the songs played.

These are:

  • ZAiKS - fees for authors of musical and musical-verbal compositions,
  • Stoart - fees for performers of musical and musical-verbal compositions,
  • SAWP - the same as Stoart, but for other contractors,
  • ZPAV - for audio and video producers,
  • ZAPA - the film equivalent of ZAiKS, Stoart and SAWP in one.

Each of these institutions must be contacted separately, various contracts must be signed and separate fees must be paid.

Public music and video playback, and control?

The organizations in question are authorized to carry out inspections as a result of which the inspector may order the payment of a fee for public reproduction of music and video even for the outstanding three years. In the event of refusal, the case may go to a court, which then has the option of imposing an obligation on the entrepreneur to pay even for the last five years.

The rules for carrying out checks are clear:

  • the inspector must identify himself,
  • the control should not be hindered,
  • the inspector does not have the right to enter the area inaccessible to customers,
  • the employee is not obliged to provide the inspector with any documents of the company that may contain company secrets without the consent of the entrepreneur,
  • a protocol is drawn up from the inspection, which the entrepreneur has access to, but does not have to sign it, if he decides that it contains material errors.

An entrepreneur may try to prove that playing music or video does not affect the company's revenues, but in practice it is extremely difficult (if at all feasible), because ZAiKS puts forward arguments about the influence of music on the customer's mood, etc.

There are several ways to circumvent these provisions, but in many cases none of them is satisfactory. However, it is worth considering:

  • music with a creative common license not protected by the mentioned organizations,
  • works by only one artist - then there is no question of collective management, you only need to obtain the consent of that artist,
  • live music - preferably classical or other, to which the economic copyrights have expired.

Author: Tadeusz Bisewski,