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Why Your On Hold Music or Music for Business Might Not Be Legal

Thousands of business owners are breaking the law every day by using unlicensed music for their music on hold or music for business.

Most of these companies don’t mean to break the law. They just aren’t aware that they are using music illegally.

Unfortunately, the penalty for copyright infringement can be financially painful and embarrassing for your company, customers, stockholders and venture capitalists.

Whether you download music illegally from the internet, use the radio for your on hold entertainment or fail to understand the limitations of how and when you can use your on hold music or music for business; you can get into serious legal trouble.




Take the Test for On Hold Music or Music On Hold

To help you do your due diligence and determine if your on hold music and music for business are legal, we’ve put together a simple four question test. Answer ‘yes’ to each of these questions and you’re probably ok. Answer ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’ to any of them and you should consult with your on hold music provider or attorney to make sure you are legal.

  1. Does your equipment supplier have permission to sell you the music?

In today’s internet-driven business world, you may never meet the person who actually sells you your on hold music or music for business. Check their website carefully, ask questions and if you have any doubts, look into the company further by consulting with an attorney and/or the local Better Business Bureau where the company operates. If the company doesn’t have permission to sell you the music, they might be doing it intentionally or may be clueless about copyright laws themselves.

Either way, if they aren’t legal, then you aren’t legal. And that could get you both in trouble.

  1. Is your music license a ‘Direct Performance License’?

If your company can’t provide proof of a ‘direct performance license’ then that’s a warning sign. To use music on hold or music for business, you must have a direct performance license so that royalty payments can be made to a performing rights organization such as BMI or ASCAP.

Got a license and you’re good to go. No license and you’re in the danger zone.

  1. Are you paying BMI or ASCAP for music you use?

BMI and ASCAP administer public performance royalties to just about every piece of popular music ever recorded. If you or your on hold music or music for business provider aren’t paying these two organizations and you’re not using ‘royalty free’ music, then you’re operating illegally.

  1. Have you purchased a new license for each of your physical locations?

If you’ve added a new branch office or franchise location but are using the same license for all of your locations, you are breaking the law. Even if you have a music license for your primary location, it will contain parameters about when, where and how you can use the music. When you add a new location, you have to purchase a new license for music on hold and music for business.


Did Your On Hold Music and Music for Business Pass The Test?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all four of the questions above, then you should be in compliance with copyright laws. But if you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions or you aren’t sure of how to answer, do your due diligence in order to protect your company from penalties of copyright infringement.

Ask the right questions and request documentation of licenses, etc. from your on hold music provider. If they can’t answer your questions or provide you with documentation, or you feel uneasy about your current provider, consult with your attorney, or call On Hold Company and we’ll show you how we provide legal and licensed music for more than 15,000 music on hold and music for business clients.

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