The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday December 7th


Copyright? Coming right up!

Can you tell the difference between legal and illegal music? No?

Neither could the owner of the Daily Grind — that is, until she began receiving information about the music being played in her espresso café.

Jane Brown, the owner of the Daily Grind, said the café had been playing music from Pandora Internet Radio without realizing that playing it was illegal. When the Broadcasting Music Inc., a global leader in music rights management, reached out to the café earlier this semester, the company provided Brown with an overwhelming amount of information about music licensing and copyright laws.

“I had no idea we were playing music illegally,” Brown said. “And then I started getting letters from BMI, and then they started calling, and then I finally did some research on my own and found out that we weren’t playing music legally. “

“Now we’re working to become legal and sorting everything out.”

What exactly is a copyright law? Natasha Powell, the director of public relations at BMI, said copyright law requires that any public performance of music requires consent from copyright owners.

What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that if you can’t share a headphone with a friend (or a couple of friends), you happen to own a business and you want to play music aloud in a public place, you have to pay a fee (or multiple fees) so that artists and copyright owners can make more money.

“This serves to protect the integrity of the work,” Powell said. “And (it) encourages the songwriter to continue to create music by enabling them to be compensated for their efforts when their music is played publicly to benefit a business or other organization.”

Although BMI reached out to the Daily Grind and offered to arrange a legal partnership, Brown said she is instead working to create a business account with Pandora. This account would ensure that Brown had the proper licenses to play music in her coffeeshop, and would provide added benefits such as a media player that can connect to existing sound systems, and none of those dreaded commercials.

A hop, skip, and jump across the Pit and inside of the Student Union, Paul Hartley, the assistant manager at Alpine Bagel Café, said the music coming from their speakers is completely legal.

“We listen to FM radio on the line at a quiet volume to create a more fun and enjoyable atmosphere — both for our customers and employees,” Hartley said.

“I find customers enjoy the music, often discussing the tunes being played with our employees. Since the Union is a place for study as well as socializing, we try to keep the volume at a level where line customers and employees can enjoy it without bothering people in the lobby.”

Brown said that music is just as important at the Daily Grind.

“It creates an ambiance,” she said. “ People leave the office or students stop by, and there will be crazy music or soothing music or something completely different playing. It’s just a nice break.”

With LDOC ten days away and exams approaching fast, a cup of Joe from the Daily Grind, a bagel from Alpine, and some music will be a nice break indeed.

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The Daily Tar Heel for December 1, 2021

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