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Is this Legal?


Scott Blessing
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Scott Blessing

I started looking into LOR at the end of 2006 and 2007 was my first year using it, and I can’t say enough about these products. What an interesting hobby (obsession) this has turned out to be.

Here is my question... My house and small bussiness are on one property. They are two seperate buildings maybe 20 ft. apart. My display this year included both buildings. Being that I have a commercial property I am trying to make sure that I am not doing anything wrong with copyrights, infringements etc. Is there something I should be concerned with and if so could you give me some direction?


Thanks, Scott

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If you are using the display to bring more customers to your business then you may have a problem with the copyright holder's of the music you are using.

tom.

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Does anyone know of a case where a copyright holder either filed suit or sent a Cease & Desist order to a business with an animated light display?

And just for peace of mind, do we know of any older versions of classic Christmas songs that are not copyrighted which someone could use in a show without fear of copyright infringement?

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I disagree but am not a lawyer and who knows with the RIAA. The RIAA has even gone as far as saying that ripping music to MP3 is against terms of use.

Many businesses, including mine, use copyrighted music to make money. While this technically violates the personal use clause, I feel I am ok as long as the music I use was legally purchased. There are only a few companies that actually license music for mobile DJ's. To date, no DJ company that I am aware of or has been discussed on DJ boards has ever been gone after for using legally obtained music. A few larger operators have been sued for using illegal copies.

You, on the other hand, are not using music to directly earn a profit. While the display may bring more customers in your place of business, no one is paying you directly to hear the music. How many businesses have you frequented that play music in the background? Larger companies may subscribe to Muzak or similar services, most small business just play CD's or the radio.

I would not worry about it.

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Since your business and house are together, if any copyright owner complains (very unlikely, as discussed above), your defense is that you're doing it for personal reasons, and you just happened to string some lights to the neighboring building, which just happens to be your business.

On another note, it's unlikely that any potential copyright owner would see your books. And since you could justify to the IRS that the lights are to bring new customers, I think that everything you spend on lights and related hardware this year is a valid marketing expense and thus tax deductable!

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Steven wrote:

I think that everything you spend on lights and related hardware this year is a valid marketing expense and thus tax deductable!

Lightbulb:]:]:]:]

If I use my LOR boxes and about 100 strings of LED lights (who really counts) at a gig, I can write them off!

Excellent.
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I do know there are some legal issues with broadcasting some copyrighted material.

For example, it is illegal to use a radio station's broadcast for music on hold on your telephone. I don't think this applies to music that you purchased and are using for non-profit, personal purposes, but I'm curious how far the laws do apply.

Scott

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Scott Blessing

I did see some of the other posts and understand that it would look pretty bad for someone to start an issue involving the Christmas Spirit, but also that there is some kind of fine line about it all. I just was not sure if that would still be the same for me because of the store. I was a little worried about even asking this question. So far so good.:?

I did not advertise my display, Our store was closed and all the lights (including the sign) were off before the show started. I thought I was doing just fine with word of mouth and then the newspaper showed up. The next day, in the B section about 80% of the first page were a series of color pictures of our lights. In the following two weeks, a conservative estimate is close to 400 cars viewed my display. I still had 8 cars out there at midnight on christmas eve. I am fortunate to have a small state river access area across the street. Three times the police were here because usually there would be nothing happening around me but they were all fine with it, two of them even came back with their families. I don't know what to expect next year.

BTW: My store use to be a restaurant. I have a 1200 amp electrical service and currently have close to 60 circuit breakers not in use. I am new at this but give me another year and hopefully I will be able have something worthy of viewing by all of you. Thanks for all your comments

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Scott Blessing

Steven wrote:

On another note, it's unlikely that any potential copyright owner would see your books. And since you could justify to the IRS that the lights are to bring new customers, I think that everything you spend on lights and related hardware this year is a valid marketing expense and thus tax deductable!

tax deductable whenever appropritate, However most of my lights were 75 percent off! so I have no complaints. I will let you know after I sit down with my accountant at the end of this month, but I am pretty sure that if I am not selling it, I am required to pay tax. However it does rate as a bussiness expense.
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  • 1 month later...

In the past couple of years I sat in on a copy wright lecture at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) conference. The speaker at the session stated that when you purchase music it is for personal use. Looking at the way we use music with LOR software we may need to pay a synchronization and performance royalty. There are royalty free versions of most Christmas music. I however will use music I have purchased as personal use with my display with a clear conscience.

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T34 Flyer wrote:

In the past couple of years I sat in on a copy wright lecture at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters)

T34 Flyer, I almost always let spelling mistakes go without comment as I can't spell very well myself.

However, I find it funny that you went to a copyright seminar and can't spell the word correctly. :shock::D;)
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I'm glad I didn't need to "rite" in the session. Sorry, I'm the worst speller. My first job out of collage was manufacturing work instruction. Go figure.

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Dennis Cherry

What I see is "Define Personal Use"?

That is a broad statement that can be defined in many ways.

How about personal use in my Christmas Display. What if some comes along and sees it, does that mean you cannot have anyone else see your personal use?

Lawyers just love this kind of general terminlogy, Thats how they get rich.

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George Simmons

If someone owns the music legally and isn't charging admission for viewing the display in which it's used, I don't see where there could be any problem. My "personal use" includes however I want to personally listen to the tunes I own - either in the light or in the dark.

George Simmons

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Personal use in basically "non public performance". Playing a CD before and after church is considered public performance and Churches collectively pay a royalty through CCLI.

My opinion is that my non profit personal display is personal use and synchronization rights are referring to video. My display is no different then playing a CD in my home for guests.


Also, an artist can ask for a royalty for any performance publicly whether anything is charged or not.

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