Broadcasters need to be aware that ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (the "performing rights organizations" or PROs) don’t cover them for all uses of music – especially uses that may be made on station websites. Offering downloads, podcasts, and streaming video featuring music all require specific permission from music rights holders. And, as we wrote just last week, incorporating music into recorded commercials also requires specific permission from rights holders – not just your routine payment to the PROs. As music usually has two different classes of rights holders – those that hold the rights to the musical composition (the lyrics and music in the song, usually held by a publishing company), and the rights to the "sound recording" or "master recording" (usually held by the record companies), knowing who to ask for what rights can sometimes be complicated. To help explain some of the basic issues of where to go for what rights, Davis Wright Tremaine has put together a Guide to the Basics of Music Licensing, available here.
The Guide also addresses some of the controversial issues in music licensing, and the question of "fair use", a concept often cited but also often misunderstood. So check out ourGuide for a basic introduction to the law governing music rights issues.