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et’s keep this going! Thank you to all that submitted questions. Please send future questions to email@example.com and each issue alcohol beverage attorney Ryan Malkin of Malkin Law P.A. will answer a few of them. Please remember, the questions should not include any confidential or brand information and should not seek specific legal advice for your business, but should be general inquiries relevant to as many of your fellow distillers as possible.
QUESTION: WE WOULD LIKE TO PLAY MUSIC IN THE TASTING ROOM OF OUR DISTILLERY. ARE THERE ANY COPYRIGHT OR LICENSING ISSUES WITH DOING SO?
ANSWER: In typical lawyerly fashion, the answer here is it depends. The Copyright Act, among other things, provides the copyright owner the exclusive right to “perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.” Like most rules, there are exceptions. Here, the “homestyle exemption” may apply to some tasting rooms. Generally, the homestyle exemption means you may play the music as you would in your own home from a
publicly broadcasted source (e.g. radio) without a license. There are various factors to consider when making this analysis, including, for instance, the source of the music (i.e. radio or satellite versus a CD); the size of the space (i.e. there are additional restrictions for spaces above 3,750 sq. ft.); and whether you’re charging to listen to the music (i.e. a listening party versus background music). If the homestyle exemption doesn’t apply to you, purchasing a license from ASCAP or BMI is nothing compared to the process you went through to obtain your distillery license. The typical cost for a small bar is between $500 and $1,000 and can be done online. Check with a copyright lawyer to analyze your specific scenario.