Summer events and music – royalty reminder

The fact that nublu has hung its songs on Soundcloud for everyone to listen to, or that Spotify premium is a paid monthly subscription, does not give you the right to play music anywhere at your discretion.

When is it allowed to play music without paying and when not?

Spotify can play at a wedding

The payment of a fee for playing music depends on whether or not it is a public performance of a musical work. Public performance means playing, singing, or otherwise performing a work, either directly or by technical means, in a place open to the public or in a place where a significant number of persons outside the family and an immediate circle of acquaintances are present.

By that definition, a Spotify, Youtube, or group performance of a song at a wedding or uncle Heino’s anniversary party is not a public performance. This is the case if people the people present at the event belong a family or a close circle of acquaintances.

Even if the aunt’s new partner or the future spouse’s childhood friend from Australia is in the company, it is still a family event, as there is no significant number of such persons present and it is not a public event.

Courtyard cafes and Midsummer celebrations must apply for a permit

The situation is different if strangers who do not belong to the family or acquaintance circle of the event organizer can participate in the event free of charge or for a fee. Such is the case for example during Midsummer bonfires in a village square or courtyard cafes.

It is a place open to the public, and it can also be assumed that there are people who are not familiar with each other. Another indication of a place open to the public is for example when the event is shared publicly on Facebook.

In the case of events open to the public, only the fact that the music is performed is relevant. It doesn’t matter if the visitors noticed the music, what equipment was used to play the music, how many songs were played, or whether it was a song they liked. Similarly, radio cannot be played at such events without permission.

How to apply for a permit?

Applying for a permit is easy – all you have to do is buy a public performance license from the Estonian Authors’ Society (EAS) and, if the recording is used (i.e. it is not live performance), then also a permit from associations representing phonogram producers and performers. Contract forms, tariffs and contact details are available on the associations’ websites.

The fact that the band has already been paid does not count here. The band will probably also perform musical works whose words and melody they have not created themselves. Therefore, the right to use such works can only be purchased from EAS.

If the band only played songs they created, the band members would probably be members of EAS and they would not be able to exercise those rights themselves.

For example, a permit for a public performance of musical works at a summer event without an entrance fee and with up to 300 visitors costs 16 euros and 7 euros if the recording is used.

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