Watch Out…ASCAP Inspecting Funeral Homes Without Music Licenses

October 13, 2009
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A funeral home in a small town in South Dakota recently opened the door to an unwelcome visitor during a funeral service ? an ASCAP inspector who was checking up on funeral homes that do not have music licenses. ASCAP, along with BMI and SESAC, are the three music-licensing organizations in the United States.

After determining that the South Dakota funeral home was allowing copyrighted music to be performed during the funeral service, the ASCAP inspector gave the funeral home a choice: pay for an ASCAP license for 2009 or face a copyright infringement suit with penalties of up to $30,000. The funeral home had no choice but to pay for the ASCAP license for the final four months of 2009.

That individual license cost more than the annual music license fee available through NFDA, which gives a funeral home a blanket license for all music in the ASCAP, BMI and SESAC libraries. Not surprisingly, the South Dakota funeral home that alerted NFDA about the inspection quickly signed-up for the NFDA music license for 2010.

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When NFDA contacted ASCAP officials about the inspection, ASCAP verified that it has targeted funeral service for enforcement after discovering significant numbers of funeral home locations that were not licensed. Several NFDA members have also reported receiving letters from ASCAP regarding federal copyright law and the music license requirement. If a member has all of its locations licensed through NFDA, they should disregard the letter; if they are not licensed through NFDA, they should contact NFDA immediately to renew their license.

Members of NFDA are eligible to purchase a comprehensive music license covering all three music-licensing organizations, ASCAP, SESAC and BMI, for $223 ? the lowest price available anywhere. A license must be purchased annually for each funeral home location in order for the business to be properly licensed and comply with federal copyright law.

NFDA extends this exclusive pricing to all federated state funeral associations and Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC) member organizations: International Order of the Golden Rule, National Funeral Directors & Morticians Organization, Cremation Association of North America, Selected Independent Funeral Homes, Casket & Funeral Supply Association, Monument Builders Association of North America, National Concrete Burial Vault Association, and the American Monument Association.

To learn more about music licensing or to purchase a license, please visit www.nfda.org/about-nfda/membership-information or call NFDA at 800-228-6332.

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