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Understanding Music Licensing

Recent news about East Lansing’s Dublin Square facing hefty fines from a federal lawsuit alleging the bar played music without paying the required licensing fees has prompted conversation about what the rules are for playing music to the public.  

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers announced in October it filed copyright infringement actions against 12 bars and restaurants nationwide, arising out of the unauthorized public performance of its members’ copyrighted musical works. 

ASCAP Executive Vice President Stephanie Ruyle said bars and restaurants coming out of the pandemic have used music to lure customers back to their venues, but some have failed to resume paying licensing fees. 

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