Legal question re: music in offices

I am a psychologist and have a private practice. I rent to another psychologist, and we share a waiting room. I would like to have music in the waiting room and hallway, but I have read bits and pieces which make me wonder about the legal issues involved in just installing a CD or mp3 player. XM radio has a “music for businesses” site that they say satisfies all the laws surrounding this, but they don’t quote a price, which makes me very nervous. The space involved is less than 300 square feet, if that makes any difference, and we see about 15 people a day between us.

Am I running afoul of any laws by just playing what I want? Are there any exceptions for very small businesses such as mine? If I am breaking a law, what risk am I running?

Why don’t you just ask the other shrink what he or she wants? If they don’t like it, they can rent a space elsewhere. I’d imagine this sort of law varies greatly in different jurisdictions. As a professional, perhaps you should consult a legal professional.

Personally, I tend to dislike elevator music. Why don’t you just listen to music in your own office–when you don’t have a patient?

Uh, thanks for the response, but I think you missed the point. So as to keep us on track, let me explain a bit.

The other psychologist and I agree on choice of music–classical.

Thanks for your opinion re: elevator music, but my question is really about the legal issues involved. I could certainly consult a lawyer, but like many of us, I was hoping that someone here might point me in the right direction without charging by the hour.

I think the question is about the legality of broadcasting music in a business space, not about fighting with her professional colleague.

Technically, you need to pay ASCAP fees to play the music in a public setting, which I’m sure ASCAP would consider your office. Check out the ASCAP Licensing page for general information.

Realistically, they usually don’t enforce it that rigorously for a business such as you describe.

If you choose music in the public domain, you shouldn’t need to pay a fee to ASCAP or BMI. A lot of classical music falls into this category.

Again, IANAL, etc

The recording won’t necessarily be in the public domain, though.

Sorry. I misunderstood. However, most classical music will in the public domain.

The ASCAP site might help if you want to play something more recent.

Even if Mozart’s music is in the public domain, a particular recorded performance of one of his pieces of music is not. Similarly, even though Shakespeare’s Hamlet is PD, a movie made using the play as a script is almost certainly not.

Huh. Now that you guys supplied me with the terms BMI and ASCAP, I checked out their websites and then spoke to a guy at BMI. He said I would need a license, and with the size of my place, it would be just over $200 per year. He also said that he had never had a doctor or psychologist call, which I bet means that everyone else just does it without getting a license. :slight_smile:

I have to wonder, though, if the guy at BMI might be ignoring some exception I might fit into. Kind of like a car salesman telling you that you MUST get your car serviced at the dealership. I would still like an unbiased opinion. Thanks for the input so far.

That’s really interesting. Seems kind of silly, but $200/year for a business (particularly split between the two of you) sounds like very little to be doing things completely on the up-and-up.

You obviously haven’t read my rants about my colleague. :slight_smile: To make things really interesting, she is actually a member of either ASCAP or BMI or both. She is a bluegrass songwriter.

Dumb question - what if you just left a radio playing in the waiting room, tuned to a classical station?

Hey, by the way – a friend of mine needs to investigate her client’s mental history for sentence mitigation purposes. She doesn’t want to get someone who charges by the hour, but you could point her in the right direction. Who among the client’s friends and family should she talk to and what kind of medical, family, or social history should she collect? How should she document past abuse, past criminal acts, and other previous trauma and weigh its effects? How should she develop a profile on the client’s risk of re-offending?

Actually, never mind. Looking at that list laid out like that, it looks like finding a psychologist and paying for his or her advice is probably the way to go. I’ll tell my friend.

It’s funny because Bricker’s a lawyer.

Are you suggesting that we can’t post on the Dope asking whether or not something is legal? Or just that we’ll be subjected to long-winded smart-ass retorts if we do?

Seriously, Bricker, people ask questions like this all the time. All I knew was that there were licensing/legal issues. Some posters gave me terms that helped me find out more. I didn’t know where to start, so that was helpful. I wasn’t asking for a full legal consultation, and you know that, so your example is just stupid.

I have answered mental health questions here before. I thought the point of this place was to answer questions in our areas of expertise.

Is caffeine bad? Don’t ask this on SDMB, you really should ask a professional, certified, licensed dietitian nutritionist.

What’s the difference between “affect” and “effect”? There are etymologists and linguists for that. I’m not sure what they charge per hour but you need to talk to them.

What was that song about Buddy Holly? You need to consult a musicologist.

What is the area of a circle if its radius is 10? *Seriously, you should ask a university mathematician. There’s probably more to your question than we can responsibly answer. If your circle is on the surface of the earth, you must account for spherical trigonometry. If your circle is across the vast distances of the universe, you have to consider non-Euclidean geometries. *

Can I ask any question at all on SDMB? If it has any connection to any formal profession anywhere, then the answer is no.

He is ignoring an exception you fall into.

It’s called “neither BMI nor ASCAP has the time or inclination to investigate your small business to ensure it hasn’t got an illicit radio or contraband iPod dock.”

You already got the not-charged-for-by-the-hour answer: you have to pay BMI a fee. However, you are now asking for the charged-by-the-hour answer; ie., “how do I get out of paying this fee?”

I think that’s a bit of an absurd leap. Saying, “I wonder if there’s some exception I fall under” is, to me, tantamount to someone saying, “I wonder if there’s a tax exemption for this category.” Sure, a law/tax expert could provide a detailed answer to that, but there are plenty of people on the Dope (who aren’t professionals in the related field) who might possibly have their own experiences with the subject that the OP might find helpful. This thread isn’t even in GQ.