Publicly streaming music may violate intellectual property law

Most customers of New York restaurants, cafes and shops have come to expect a certain atmosphere from their favorite haunts. A large part of that ambience includes the music piped through speakers. In most cases, that music comes via a streaming service, such as Pandora or Spotify. However, what customers may not realize is that many business owners may be committing intellectual property theft by misusing their music streaming subscriptions.

Streaming services provide music free with paid ads or for a small fee for commercial-free listening. Through these forms of revenue, streaming services pay the licensing fees that ensure the artists receive royalties when listeners access their songs. However, in many cases, business owners may use their own personal streaming subscriptions to play music in their establishments. Because they are not paying commercial licensing fees to stream the music publicly, they are in violation of copyright laws.

Researchers at Nielsen Music conducted a study of background music sources for small businesses around the world. The data they compiled revealed that this common form of copyright infringement is costing artists and musicians nearly $3 billion a year that they would earn if business owners paid the appropriate licensing fees to publicly stream music. This averages to about $138 million a month.

It is not always immediately obvious when someone has infringed on an artist's intellectual property. This is a prime example of a widely accepted practice that deprives musicians and composers of royalties and fees they deserve. When New York artists discover that someone has violated their rights, they can seek assistance from an experienced copyright attorney.

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