Printer Friendly

Another perspective.

Another Perspective

During the December holidays, every square inch of my mother's home is filled with symbols of the season. This year we even had paper towels printed with green wreaths and red letters in the kitchen.

For all of December, these towels drove me crazy. The message printed on them was

At least once a day I would stop and ponder the message of those letters. Rest on Peace? Or did it say hop? But hop is an Easter word, not a Christmas one.

On New Year's Eve, driven to complete frustration and confusion by this mystery, I picked the towels up and in doing so turned the message upside down. Ah! Joy!

Sometimes when you are looking at a thing from one angle, it can look confusing and frustrating. And sometimes if you can look at it from a new perspective, it makes sense.

About 18 months ago some folks contacted ASAE to remind us that if we wanted to use copyrighted music at our meetings, we would have to pay a licensing fee for the privilege.

Like most of you, I have grown up in an environment in which music is piped by radio, film, and video into my life almost constantly with the flick of a switch. I feel that I own, by familiarity, most of Verdi, the Beatles' "Yesterday," all of Joan Baez's music. It's a part of who I am, and I rarely think of this magic as an economic commodity. But the fact is that if I want to use that wonderful magic to enhance my event, the law says I have to pay for it.

People at BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers)--the two organizations that handle that distinctly unmusical business of collecting what I owe--told ASAE they intended to begin strictly enforcing the copyright law on behalf of the musicians they represent. We argued that we--and most of our members--didn't mean to violate the law but really were unaware of our responsibility and didn't have a clue how to go about complying.

We had visions of thousands of associations working with hundreds of lawyers to figure out how to come into compliance. In an attempt to avoid that, we, Meeting Planners International, the Professional Convention Management Association, and others formed the Music Licensing Task Force and conceived a plan to negotiate model agreements with BMI and ASCAP on behalf of each of our members that would make it relatively easy to comply. And we successfully did just that.

That is not new news. In fact, in November 1990, ASAE sent a special Association Report to all members explaining what had happened. And some members responded by telling us they were frustrated and confused by what we had done.

Given the complexity and change reflected in the message, I'm not surprised that it looked a lot like ROP--distinctly joy-less.

But looked at from another perspective, here is the fact. For many associations, the model agreements do provide a relatively painless way to pay for music when they use it at meetings. For others, the agreements may not make sense. But there was NOTHING about the agreements that bind any association.

An association that would prefer to negotiate its own agreement--in general, or per event--with either or both BMI and ASCAP--is entirely free to do so. And an association is in no way obligated by the model agreements.

No single model agreement can or will ever fit all cases. And the recently negotiated BMI and ASCAP agreements were not meant to apply to all associations. They were developed as standards--to be used if they are relevant and to be improved or ignored if they are not.

In fact, association performances of music may be exempt from the fees in certain situations, and there are countless songs available in the public domain that are not covered by licensing (although identifying them may not be an easy task).

So if the model agreements negotiated by the Music Licensing Task Force work for you, Godspeed. If not, we would love to hear from you about separate agreements you may negotiate or about situations in which you discover a performance of music is exempt from fees.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Footnotes
Author:Myers, Elissa Matulis
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:column
Date:Feb 1, 1991
Previous Article:The team works.
Next Article:Sharing solutions across continents.

Related Articles
Entry, collusion, and capacity constraints.
Statistics don't lie, people do.
Final rule--correction to amendment to Regulations H and Y. (Legal Developments).
Outside in.
Correction: Vol. 10, No. 5.
SEC disclosure rules evoke concern.
Perfect storm prompts changes in pension accounting: postretirement obligations move to financial statements while FASB considers more comprehensive...

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters