The fee is to pay for a license that permits the funeral home to have music performed on its premises or wherever it holds funeral services, whether it is performed live, through recorded music over CDs, DVDs, and cassettes, or by music-on-hold.
For each song that is performed without a license, damages are set by federal statute at a range of $750 to $30,000.
Yes. It does not matter who performs the music or who arranges to have the music performed. The license is required by the operator of the business in which the music is performed.
Yes. In the second half of 2009, ASCAP started an aggressive enforcement program in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. ASCAP inspectors were shocked by the number of funeral homes without licenses. These homes were required to pay license fees for 2009 to ASCAP which were higher than the annual music license fee that NFDA negotiated to cover ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. ASCAP has now taken this enforcement effort across the country and SESAC has also taken notice. SESAC recently sent out warning notices to over 16,000 funeral homes.
Funeral homes that belong to any funeral service trade or professional organization such as NFDA, NFDMA, CANA, SIFH, OGR, or a state funeral directors association can purchase a blanket music license from NFDA for $235 for 2013.
No. The NFDA music license is a “performance” license that allows music to be performed. In order to record music to a DVD or video, a “synchronization” license is required. BMI, ASCAP and SESAC do not issue synchronization licenses. The only way to obtain a synchronization license is through the producer of each song which is to be recorded. This makes it nearly an impossible task for a funeral home to put multiple songs on a tribute DVD or video.
Funeral homes may purchase CDs of royalty- free music. Another alternative is to play the popular songs requested by the family on the funeral home’s music system while the DVD or video is playing. As long as the songs are not recorded on to the DVD or video, a synchronization license is not required and the NFDA music license allows the funeral home to perform the songs.
No. The NFDA music license would not cover that because the DVD (with music on it) violates the copyright of the owners of the music (assuming the songs on the DVD are not in public domain). The NFDA music license is a performance license. It allows the funeral home to have music performed at the funeral home. That music can be live, on a tape, CD, MP3, vinyl, etc. In the case of the DVD, the family needed a synchronization license to place copyrighted music on the DVD. The only way to get the sync license is to contact the writer/owner of each song on the DVD and obtain their written permission. Assuming the family did not do that, it violated the copyright of each song holder when it added their songs to the DVD. While the funeral home did not make the DVD, they also violate copyright law by playing the copyrighted music in the funeral home facility at a public gathering. What the funeral home may do is play the DVD without sound. The music to accompany the pictures on the DVD can be played on the funeral home’s sound system off of a CD, MP3, tape, etc. As long as the music is not coming from the illegally made DVD, the funeral home is not violating copyright.