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FAQs: Music Licensing | Broadcast Licensing | Digital | Mechanical, Synchronization & Other


Frequently Asked Questions: Digital Licensing

Click the questions below to view the answer.

Q: Who is SESAC?

A: SESAC was founded in 1930 as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers. Since that time SESAC has significantly expanded the number of songwriters and publishers represented and its repertory now includes all music genres. As a reflection of this change S.E.S.A.C. became SESAC LLC.

SESAC is the second oldest of the three Performing Rights Organizations (PRO) in the United States. The Copyright Law of the United States defines a PRO as "an association, corporation, or other entity that licenses the public performance of non-dramatic musical works on behalf of copyright owners of such works...

SESAC is a member the international Performance Rights Organization CISAC and has reciprocal agreements with many foreign PRO's

Q: What service does SESAC provide?

A: SESAC represents songwriter's and music publishers copyrighted works and their right under the Copyright Law to publicly perform those works. SESAC acts as a clearinghouse between the copyright owners and those who wish to publicly perform music.

The Copyright Law of the United States defines a Public Performance as:

"(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or

(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times."

Essentially anytime music is performed, played, broadcasted or otherwise communicated to the public a license is required.

SESAC offers a blanket license agreement that is recognized as the most convenient and cost effective method to obtain the required authorization to publicly perform all of the copyrighted music in the SESAC repertory.

Q: Why Should I Have a SESAC Performance License?

A: Musical compositions, like other intellectual property, belong to their creators. The United States Copyright Law grants certain exclusive rights to copyright owners, including the right to publicly perform and the right to authorize others to publicly perform the work.

Generally, in the United States, and in other countries of the world, permission is obtained through a licensing arrangement with the respective performing rights organization. On behalf of many thousands of songwriters and music publishers, SESAC offers blanket license agreements that authorize the performance of all the compositions in the SESAC repertory. The SESAC Performance License is recognized in the industry as the most convenient and cost effective method for music users to obtain the permission that is required by law.

If you are using someone's property (song) there is a moral and legal obligation to obtain the owner’s permission. Under the Copyright Law of the United States, anyone who publicly performs copyrighted music is required to obtain advanced permission from the copyright owner, or their representative. If you publically perform any copyrighted song without proper authorization you are breaking the law and can be held liable for damages from a minimum of $750 up to a maximum of $150,000 per song played!

The Better Business Bureau provides additional information concerning the Copyright Law and a music user's responsibilities.

For more information, or to request a license, please email Nate Williams at nwilliams@sesac.com or 1-800-826-9996.

Q: If I have licenses with ASCAP and/or BMI, why do I need a license with SESAC?

A: SESAC, ASCAP, and BMI are three separate and distinct Performing Rights Organizations (PRO). Each organization represents different copyright holders (songwriters, composers, publishers) and licenses only the copyrighted works of its own respective copyright holders. Licenses with ASCAP and BMI DO NOT grant you authorization to use the copyrighted music of SESAC represented songwriters, composers and publishers.

Since a license with ASCAP and/or BMI does not grant authorization to publicly perform songs in the SESAC repertory, most businesses obtain licenses with all three to obtain proper copyright clearance for virtually all of the copyrighted music in the world

Q: What kinds of music does SESAC represent?

A: All kinds! SESAC has grown over the decades and currently represents a significant amount of music in every musical genre. SESAC has been serving music users throughout the U.S. for over 80 years with a diversified repertory including Top40, Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B, Rock, Country, Spanish (Pop, Regional Mexican, Tropical, Rhythmic), Blues, Jazz, Big Band, Folk, Contemporary Christian, Gospel, and many others, as well as music in movies, TV and advertising.

SESAC represented songs have been awarded Grammy, Clio, Dove, MTV, VH1, CMA, Emmy, and ACM awards, as well as scores of Gold and Platinum records. Artists and performers from all genres of music have performed SESAC represented works. Search our repertory.

Q: What is the best method of determining which songs are represented by SESAC?

A: Our Repertory Search is the best method. You can easily search by song title, writer, publisher or the name of the recording artist.

Do not rely on the Performing Rights Organization information printed with a CD, record, tape or sheet music. This information may be outdated, incomplete or inaccurate. The SESAC repertory search is the most accurate method available.

Q: How can using SESAC music add value to my website?

A: Copyrighted music is a popular driving force behind the explosive growth of the Internet. As technology continues to improve, sound and video are becoming seamlessly integrated with web content. As a result, music can be a welcome addition to any successful business model. The internet will increasingly come to depend on music in much the same way that radio and television rely on music for programming and content. Music can bring increased value as consumers become more actively involved in the content experience on your website.

Q: What kind of websites does the SESAC Internet Performance License cover?

A: The SESAC Internet Performance License grants authorization to publicly perform SESAC affiliated music on websites that contain such music uses as: live or archived (on demand) streaming, music videos, song previews, clips, and mobile applications that contain music.

Q: How are the Internet License Fees determined?

A: SESAC Internet Performance License fees are determined using either Aggregate Tuning Hours (ATH) or Revenue times a multiplier. The SESAC Internet Performance License and ”Schedule A” describes in further detail how fees are determined.

If you need further explanation please contact Nate Williams at nwilliams@sesac.com.

Q: Is the SESAC license the only license my website will need?

A: The SESAC Internet Performance License only gives permission to publicly perform copyrighted music represented by SESAC. The license does not grant permission for songs represented by ASCAP or BMI or for the performance of the Sound Recording, which is licensed by SoundExchange (link http://www.soundexchange.com/). For this reason, additional licensing may need to be secured for your website.

Q: What if my company or website has uses of SESAC copyrighted music that the SESAC Internet License does not cover?

A: Please contact nwilliams@sesac.com for additional new media license types.


FAQs: Music Licensing | Broadcast Licensing | Digital | Mechanical, Synchronization & Other

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