Monday, October 19, 2009

Roller Derby Blues: Do Jammers Need BMI License?

Dear Rich:I'm a member of a small roller derby team that contracts with a local roller derby rink for 3 or 4 games a year. In our contract with the rink, it says that we will split the proceeds 50/50 (each game grosses about $2,000 in total), and that the rink is responsible for providing a DJ and music during pregame and halftime. The rink has an ASCAP & BMI license. Does the roller derby team need one too? The short answer to your question is no, the rink's license is probably sufficient. Generally, a venue's performance license -- which permits public performances of copyrighted music -- will cover all the traditional activities within the venue. (Here's a story about one roller skating fan's quest for similar information.) However, like all things legal, there are a few exceptions. If the rink signed limited licenses with these performing rights societies and those licenses only cover certain events or uses, your league could run into a problem and may need to pay additional license fees. (Here's a roller derby posting on this issue.) That's not likely, but ask the rink if it is limited to certain uses or whether the license covers all music played there. In any case, we hate to see you reach for your checkbook if your agreement states that the rink will provide and pay for the music. (We assume the agreement is silent as to your BMI and ASCAP obligations). Check your paperwork with the rink. Anyway, the Dear Rich Staff is sorry you have to think about these details when you should be concentrating on your backwards whips.