The playing of music in retail spaces is a common practice in the United States, with many businesses using music to create a certain atmosphere and enhance the shopping experience for customers. However, there are laws and regulations that businesses must follow when playing music in their stores. In this article, we will explore four examples of laws and regulations surrounding the playing of music in retail spaces in the USA.
One of the primary laws that businesses must adhere to when playing music in their stores is copyright law. The copyright owner of a piece of music has the exclusive right to control how the music is used, including whether it can be played in a public setting, like a retail store. To play music legally in a retail space, businesses must obtain a license from the copyright owner or a performing rights organization like ASCAP or BMI. These licenses typically require the payment of a fee based on factors such as the size of the business and the frequency of music use. If you are asking ‘Can I play the radio in my business?’, you should first ask ‘Who deserves to get paid?’.
Sound Levels and Noise Ordinances
Another important consideration when playing music in a retail space is the sound level of the music. Many cities and towns have noise ordinances that regulate the amount of noise that can be produced in a public setting. Businesses must ensure that the volume of their music does not exceed these limits, or they may face fines or other penalties. Additionally, excessive noise levels can be a nuisance to customers and neighboring businesses, so businesses need to be mindful of the volume of their music.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in public settings, including retail spaces. This law includes provisions related to the accessibility of music for people with hearing impairments. Retail businesses that play music must provide reasonable accommodations for people with hearing impairments, such as providing sign language interpreters or closed captioning for any music-related content that is played in the store. While this does not typically apply to businesses playing background music, it is enforceable if music is crucial to the provision of a business’ services.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a federal law that was passed in 1998 to update copyright law for the digital age. One provision of the DMCA is the Safe Harbor provision, which protects internet service providers (ISPs) from liability for infringing content that is uploaded to their platforms by users. While the DMCA was not specifically designed for music played in retail spaces, it has been used in some cases to protect businesses from liability for copyright infringement related to music played in their stores. However, this protection is not absolute, and businesses must still comply with copyright laws and obtain the necessary licenses to play music legally.