Besides being a chef, Perry Margolis occasionally strummed his guitar and sang oldies to entertain customers. That is, until a performing rights company claimed he was breaking federal copyright laws.
For more than 10 years, Margolis’ has paid Broadcast Music Inc. a licensing “fee” of nearly $400 a year so he could “legally” sing and play the radio for customers. He has proudly displayed an official multi-colored BMI sticker on his front window that signals compliance.
But the BMI fee didn’t cover songs licensed by another performing rights behemoth, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP. Together, BMI and ASCAP license nearly all of the music played in the US.