What is a blanket license?

A SESAC blanket license authorizes you to publicly perform any and all of the songs in the vast SESAC repertory as often as you like, without having to worry about obtaining permission for each individual song performed.

The blanket license has long been recognized as the most efficient and convenient way of clearing copyrights in the United States. It would be time consuming and expensive for you to locate, contact and negotiate with all copyright holders prior to the performance of each song you plan to play.

The U.S. Supreme Court summarized the virtues of the blanket license in CBS v. Broadcast Music, Inc., 441 U.S. 1 (1979) as follows:

“… the blanket license developed … out of the practical situation in the marketplace: thousands of users, thousands of copyright owners and millions of compositions. Most users want unplanned, rapid and indemnified access to any and all of the repertory of compositions and the owners want a reliable method of collecting for the use of their copyrights…

“A middleman with a blanket license was an obvious necessity if the thousands of individual negotiations, a virtual impossibility were to be avoided. Also, …(individual licenses would pose) a difficult and expensive reporting problem for the user and policing task for the copyright owner. Historically, the market for public performance rights organized itself largely around the single-fee blanket license, which gave unlimited access to the repertory and reliable protection against infringement.” Id. at 20-22.


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