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Playing the radio for the public

<<On Wed, 15 Aug 2001 10:20:24 -0700 (PDT), Martin Waters <martinjwaters@yahoo.com> said:

> So, what is the legality of a business playing the radio, or TV, in
> a barroom, store, mall, etc., or out to the sidewalk passersby?

My understanding of the situation is that it depends on how the sound
is being used.  If the sound is integral to the practice of the
business, then it is probably an infringement both of the originating
station's compilation copyright in their air product and of the
copyrights held by the suppliers of program material to the station.
If, on the other hand, the sound is merely incidental to the business,
then it is probably an implicitly licensed public performance.  The
performance-rights organizations would like people to believe that one
must have their licenses if one has a radio on in a public place at
one's business, but courts have not entirely gone along.  (One
distinction I've heard used considers whether the sound is coming from
a speaker attached directly to the radio receiver, as opposed to a
system specifically built to distribute sound to multiple locations.)