While most people have a general sense on issues related to copyright and piracy, some don’t know the borders when this moves away from personal consumption of media to a commercial setting. It’s common knowledge for almost everyone today to be aware of illegal sharing of music between peers. People know that you can buy music online from stores like the ones from iTunes and Amazon. Alternatively you have music streaming services from Spotify, Deezer, and the latest – Apple Music.
However, for your business that caters to customers walking in to a physical location, you cannot buy music online, load it on your iPod and play it as in-store music. That is illegal. Here’s a definition of ‘Performing rights’ on Wikipedia. I don’t really know of people who study the Terms and Conditions before clicking on “Agree” when signing up to a new service, but here are the conditions you agree to when buying music from the iTunes Store. Scroll down to the the “Usage” section and you will see that the first point states:
“You shall be authorized to use iTunes Products only for personal, noncommercial use.”
This clearly rules out the scenario that music purchased on a store like the iTunes Store can be put in to an iPod and played in a retail store or cafeteria. The west has had several instances of establishments getting sued for violating these laws. Click here to read about one such example.
The current state of affairs in the UAE has a whole load of commercial outlets playing music in their locations without the appropriate clearance. There isn’t much awareness on how to go about doing it right. Some even presume that the region doesn’t have laws for copyright protection like in the west. This false impression exists because there isn’t stringent implementation of these laws yet. However, the constitution does have mandates built for these issues. Take a look at some of these examples from the “United Arab Emirates Copyright Law no 7 of 2002”. The extracts seen in these images are highlighted screen shots of relevant parts but the entire document can be downloaded from the official website of the National Media Council.
In page 13 which comes under Section 7 – “Precautionary Procedures and Penalties”, the law states that the authorities can impose a seizure on revenue and also imprisonment and a fine of AED 10,000 to AED 50,000.
On the fourteenth page there is a clause that mentions doubling the penalties according to the number of infringed works or recordings. To get perspective on how numbers matter, read this story where a restaurant in the US was sued for over USD 30,000 for playing four songs that were not covered by the license.
To add to this, point 40 says that the court can order confiscation of equipment and the establishment to be shut down for up to six months.
In the light of all this, it would be highly unwise for any establishment to resort to playing music in their locations that does not have all the required copyright authorizations.