Can I play music at my premises?

A lot of small businesses play radio or some other music in their premises. This is quite prevalent especially in retail stores. Did you know however that you generally need permission to play recorded music in your shop or your business, even if you have already purchased the CD?

It’s a little complicated, but when you purchase a CD you don’t actually purchase the rights to the music – you purchase the right to play the music for private, or domestic purposes. If you want to play the music to the public, then you must get permission from the owners of the music to do so. The courts have even considered that playing music over the telephone while people are waiting on hold can be considered playing music to the public.

If you want to play music in your business or your shop, you will likely need permission, or a license, from the Australasian Performing Rights Association (ARPA) and from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). These are non-profit organisations who work for their members, who are the owners of the music. They collect money from granting licenses and distribute the collected income to their members.

Of course, this is not an issue if the music is something that you’ve composed and performed yourself, or you’ve already obtained permission from the person (or people) who composed and performed the music.

This is also not an issue if copyright has expired over the music, but this can often be misleading. For example, while copyright has expired over Beethoven’s works, copyright protects the recording of the orchestra performing Beethoven’s works. If this is the case then you’ll still need licenses.

If you fail to obtain the relevant permissions then you could face the long arm of the law – either ARPA or PPCA might send you some letters seeking that you stop this behaviour or even worse, take out actions against you in a court of law.

Long story short – if you’re playing music in your business or at your store, then you should get the proper permission! If you’re still confused about what you need to do, drop us a call or send us an enquiry using the quick contact form.

Look Before You Leap when dealing with Trade Marks

If you run a small businesses, you should carry out adequate due diligence before starting trade. One of the matters that you should check before starting trade is the name of your business or the name of your brand.

If you sell items or products under a brand name, you should also check if the name of your brand is similar to or would conflict with other products on the market. A thorough search of trade marks, brand names and business names should be carried out before settling on a name for your business or product.

You should also be mindful that a registered business name is not the same as a Trade Mark.

There is nothing worse than settling on a business or brand name and embarking on an extensive marketing project, only to receive a letter from a competitor saying that your business or brand name is similar to theirs. Failure to do the proper checks and searches may result in an expensive re-branding exercise.

If, after carrying out a careful search on trade marks and business names, you find that there are no similar sounding trade marks or business names, you should consider if the additional benefits of registering your business name or brand name as a trade mark.

Registering your business name or brand name as a trade mark can protect you from other people claiming that your mark is identical or similar to theirs. In addition to this, you may be able to stop others from using your registered trade mark.

It is always best to “look before you leap”, especially when it comes to these matters.