Is Your On Hold Recording Legal?

Is Your On Hold Recording Legal?

Music is so widespread and prevalent in American culture that we often take for granted our right to play it. Most individuals do not realize that a license is legally required to play copyrighted music.What is Copyrighted Music?Most music (if not all) that you hear is copyrighted, which means a person or group of persons have the exclusive right to copy, license, or otherwise use a musical work (generally those that created and published the music). Companies are not allowed to play music from CDs, on the radio, or anything other media outlet for their callers placed on hold without proper licensing. This means you cannot simply hook up the radio or put on a CD for you customers; doing so without giving any thought to music royalties would most likely result in unnecessary lawsuits and hefty fines.It is important to make the distinction between re-broadcasting and listening to music for private enjoyment. Consumers are allowed to purchase CDs and MP3 files for the personal enjoyment for them and family and friends within their own home, private office, or car. The re-broadcasting of licensed music within any commercial establishment (such as a restaurant, office lobby, store, etc) is not allowed and is subject to legal fines and fees.What if You Don’t Have A License?If you decide to re-broadcast copyrighted music to the general public without a license, there is a possibility that nothing will happen. Since monitoring millions of pieces of copyrighted music that play every single day is virtually impossible, there is the chance that you will not get caught. However, licensing agencies like Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) are increasing efforts to contact businesses that implement music (whether in a commercial establishment or on hold) to make sure they have the proper licenses to play the music.Be aware that if you are charged for copyright infringement, fines can be as high $20,000 for each song or performance played without a license. If proven that the infringement was deliberate, the fines will steeply increase, possibly as high as $100,000. Contact a licensing agency to get the proper permits and licenses to play the music you want for you business.Creative Hold MessagesOne of the best and most secure ways to ensure the content your customers hear on hold is legal and exactly what you want is to implement a creative hold message. Having such a recording will ensure that your customers hear exactly what you want them to while they are on hold; a prime time to nonchalantly discuss products and services without being intrusive. The cost of such a message is substantially less than fees or fines you would have to pay if you illegally used licensed and copyrighted music.

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