Jerusalem – Extraordinary Psak By Rabbis: Simcha Hall Owners Must Pay Royalties For Music


    File photoJerusalem – HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliyashiv and HaRav Ovadiya Yosef ruled that hall owners in the charedi and national-religious sectors must pay song royalties as required by law, saying those who do not pay transgress issur gezel.

    Despite copyright laws, hall owners in the charedi sector have refused to pay ACUM – a non-profit organization that collects royalties for musicians and other copyright holders by issuing usage licenses – claiming there is no halachic ruling requiring them to pay to play music at events such as weddings, bar mitzvahs and bris milahs.

    According to ACUM, legal suits could have been filed long ago, like in the non-religious sector, “but we are reaching out to the charedi public in an accommodating manner out of respect, and we’re asking to hear the opinions of gedolei hador, who issued surprising halachic statements.”

    “Since the hall owner receives a license to open the facility he is obligated to adhere to all legal requirements,” said HaRav Eliyashiv, “and if the law requires [paying royalties], he has to meet that obligation. If not his license is not a license.”

    HaRav Yosef responded to the question from a different angle. “Dina d’malchuta dina,” he explained. “Since the law in the State of Israel requires everybody to pay, those who fail to pay transgress the prohibition of gezel. This obligation applies even more to hall owners who keep Torah and mitzvahs, to ensure they do not cause chilul Hashem.”

    ACUM CEO Yorik Ben David was very pleased with the rulings. “Finally all of our creators [i.e. musicians] from the charedi sector will be able to receive reward for their hard work,” he said.

    This week one notable song composer said he is confident the charedi public will be sure to pay the royalties, which will help foster the development of Chassidic music. “No chosson wants to transgress a chashash issur gezel on his wedding day,” he remarked.

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    1. I was always wondering to the Halachic implications and maybe I’ll be lucky and someone here has the answer. To those who don’t recognized the government of Israel as legit (like the rightwing settler movement and the leftist NK) and/or those who don’t recognized the State of Israel (like Satmar, Toldos Aharon); do we say that “Dina Demalchusah Dina”; or if there is no Malchussah there is no Dinah?

    2. More money out of poor squeezed parents?? It may be takeh a good idea, then no one will play this so called ‘chassidic’ resemblence to music, and get back to the basics.

      • # 1 is right.

        The real Chassidishe community has no need for modern day so call “chassidic” music recently created, when we have a goldmine of tens of thousands of great Chassidishe music form past generations (no royalties apply).

        Anyway, modern chassidic music, is more “modern” than it is “chassidic” so it should be shunned anyway and now we have the perfect “excuse” why to boycott this modern “trash_music”.

        • semantics. what we refer to here as “mainstream jewish music” is referred to musica chassidi or hassidic music in israel and in the general public as opposed to just plain “jewish music” which aside from the shwekey type (“hassidic”) also includes mizrachi, israeli, klezmer, etc

    3. Please explain why the hall is obligated to pay royalties. I agree that royalties should be paid if someone’s intellectual property is being used. But these royalties should be paid by the musician or band playing the songs, why the hall? I also don’t understand the usage license. If the hall receives a usage license from the ACUM to play music, aren’t they paying for the license? And if they aren’t paying then why doesn’t the ACUM just stop issuing licenses? Lot of info missing from this story.

      • the license is the open the hall

        since the hall is running the event and running the show that why they have to pay

        if it would be a concert are people are paying to see the band hen the musicians has to pay

        • I think u hit the right note! (pun intended) if it is dj style, than they are using the recordings. I wonder if prerecorded music by a large orchestra would sound nicer than a 1 piece keyboard. If it is cheaper, than more ppl should consider this option.

      • Do cahsidim/haredim listen to Sefardi rabbinical leaders? I think they only listen to one of their own and even then there are splits.
        I don’t get it, there is a government law requiring everyone to pay for these copy right provisions for musicians but the Charedi world chose to ignore such laws?

    4. He says that Al Pi Torah (M’Iker Hadin) it’s self, there is no chiyuv to pay royalties – only Mitzad the Secular Government requirement

      and therefore:

      Mima Nafshach!

      If the producers of this so called kelomershte “chassidishe music” – if they are really Chassidish they should be MOCHEL and so no royalties need be paid, if they are Mocheel.

      If they are not Mochel and if they insist of being Machshil Yidden, then they are not truly Chassidish so why would anyone want to play Music produced by someone who is publicly over on Lifney Iver Loy Siten Michshol?

    5. First of all, this is only applicable to copyright music. Public domain music is exempt from royalties, that’s why orchestras play old, dead musicians like bach, brahms cause the music is public domain. Next, Higher bands that write and play their own original music

    6. i also don’t understand why it’s the halls problem, and not the musician’s. Maybe thats the law?

      But there’s a big difference between the 2 poskim’s rulings. According to R’ E., if I own a hall and decide not to pay, that invalidates my license, which a) is questionble if that would legally be true. And b), what if I say, “ok, so I don’t have a license, I don’t care”, does that mean that I’m not a ganev for not paying for the music?

      Whereas acc. to R’ Y., the dina d’malchusa obligates me to pay whether I want a license or not, simply because I run a hall and am using the music.

      Unless R’ E. also based his psak on the legal requirement to pay for the music, and was only adding a svara that you cannot even BE a license-holder if you don’t abide by this law.

      Tzarich Iyun.

      But I could say that , “Okay, my license is invalidated by my not paying for the music, so now I’m not mechuyav, because I don’t really have a license.”

    7. I don’t get it. That means that every composer or produser that one of their songs was being played by a certain event has to get a royalty for each and every event that happened to sing his melody or an anual payment from each hall?

      • Yep, do you know the American version of “Happy Birthday” is still under copyright? Anytime it’s sung in public royalties are supposed to be paid.
        Someone had a smart relative. That copyright keeps being renewed and the heirs of the composer gain.

    8. Acum is stretching the law. Here in the US, ASCAP & BMI do not require royalty payments for music played at a private function such as a wedding where the patrons are NOT paying to listen to the music per se. Only acts performing for profit such as concerts are required to pay royalties to the writer/publisher. Another insane move to try to paint the Charedim in a bad light. And I’m no fan of the Charedim

    9. it doesnt make a diiference who pays the hall the musician. in the end it all get charged back to the people makeing the simcha …

      let us find out if the following are part of their org. (acum)
      mordichai ben david
      avraham fried

      who has the list of members please post

    10. The hall has to pay the performing right Society (in this case ACUM) and then the performing right Society makes a distribution to songwriters who are members according to a very complicated formula (since it is virtually impossible to track every performance). It is similar to getting a song played on the radio — just because a young recording artist got played on some Jewish station once, he will not be getting a series of royalty checks from ASCAP or BMI. At least in the United States public performance has been construed somewhat narrowly (there was a case where BMI sued a little diner because the chef in the back was listening to the radio! They lost. However in a famous case against The Gap, BMI succeeded since it was found that they played recorded music to create a mood more conducive to shopping even though it was no charge for the music itself. If a whole legitimate lee wants to “license at the source” meaning that it will pay the MBD and Schweckeys of the world directly, it probably can but then when it turns out that it is playing copyrighted music would find itself taking its lumps just like any other infringer

    11. It seems that the Rabbonim are saying that dina d’malchsa dina applies in Medinas Yisroel! Hasn’t anyone noticed this?
      Also, here in the U.S., if a store or office puts on the radio so the patrons will hear the music, the store is required to pay royalties. That is why when you go to a doctor, the only music you will hear is what’s known as “elevator” music which is paid for.

    12. “The real Chassidishe community has no need for modern day so call “chassidic” music recently created, when we have a goldmine of tens of thousands of great Chassidishe music form past generations (no royalties apply).”

      You’re right — go back to the old Polish bar songs.

    13. #1 & #17 I am dismayed that you are kvetching that you will have to pay for other people’s work!

      Guess what – if someone does work for you – they need to get paid. If you can’t afford music at your affair then you are poor. Take it up with G-d. But don’t steal. Noone owes you anything. Live within your means. Show some Yiras Shamayim.

      What are you all stressing about – the few minutes or hours you listen to a song. Is it worth it to go to genehim for eternity for that kind of narishkeit. The worker (musician) also has to put food in his kid’s mouths and shoes on their feet. If you are jealous of them, don’t listen to the music and complain to G-d but don’t steal.

    14. The halls will now up their rental fee using this as an excuse, whether the band will play copyright music or not. Like everything else, the end user will pay & all middle men earn.

      • So the parents can switch to classical music like Mozart and Beethoven and waltzes that are in the public domain and PAY NO ROYALTIES! This is blackmail pure and simple and just be smarter than them and go around it.

    15. Stirah miney-ubey, you sound like a fool. If I am halachically entitled to fees, regardless of whether the malchus created that entitlement, or not, I have every right to collect it. For you to suggest that I should be mochel it so the user won’t be over gzeila is insane. To further state that for not being mochel, I the nigzal am over lifnei iver, makes me believe you shouldn’t be left near sharp objects. Would you also suggest that if someone’s breaking into my house, I should help load my possesions into his car so as not to be over on the laws of prika/t’ina?

    16. “Since the hall owner receives a license to open the facility he is obligated to adhere to all legal requirements,” said HaRav Eliyashiv, “and if the law requires [paying royalties], he has to meet that obligation. If not his license is not a license.”

      So now that most of our chasidishe halls are not licensed to make weddings,they are built as Lunchroom for the students then the PSAK from the rabonim does NOT apply..

    17. I am unclear if this applies only to “recorded” music which is original and authentic or also to a musician playing a “version” of a song which will have his own inflections and changes?
      Please clarify.

    18. The Chareidi wedding:

      No music (unless royalties paid)

      kallah wears no makeup (so she collevcts bonus)

      all clothing have Hechsher

      no OU products allowed (of course)

      class before hand advising chosson and kallah tht starving and shaking future children allowed< as its the Zionist reshaim that are spreading myths MAZEL TOV! have a happy life

    19. I don’t get it…if I owned a piece of property and you decided to build on it, that’s OK? If I went to your restaurant and didn’t pay, that’s OK? after all I’m enjoying your cooking! Isn’t that enough? So why should there be any charge for using my intellectual property? One of the worst hangovers from the hippie era is the idea that copyright has no meaning, even by otherwise economic conservatives: a very foolish notion.

      • They are not “selling” the song, per se. They are charging a few hundred dollars for performing live but not rerecording the song for sale. Alan, if you decide to cover Bob Dylan in the Atlantic-Pacific subway station, are you going to get a bill from Bob Dylan requesting royalty payments? Idiot.

    20. A lawyer should comment on this but:

      a) If you are playing a legally-purchased CD (not black market), the royalties are paid for in the purchase price of the CD.

      b) I think any artist can cover any song at a private performance (with NO ticket sales), but RECORDING THE SONG for resale on a CD is a different story. They you would have to pay royalties. But such is not the case in this ruling; here they are talkiing about (I assume) live performances.

      c) If the royalties imposed will be excessive, they will just have to bring back DJ’s playing CD’s of the music to keep costs under control. A DJ is a lot less expensive than a live band.


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