OLYMPIA – Providing small businesses a little relief from harassment and intimidation, the House of Representatives passed legislation to regulate music licensing agents with a bipartisan vote of 72-25. HB 1763 was introduced by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) after local businesses shared their stories of being forced to pay thousands of dollars in fees, without clear documentation of copyright infringement. The legislation takes aim at the companies who own copyrights on music and arbitrarily levies heavy fees against venues that play live or recorded music.
Some venues have been forced to stop playing music completely. Van De Wege’s legislation requires music licensing companies to file annually with the Secretary of State, complete a business license application, and pay an annual fee. That fee will be used to communicate with bars, restaurants, and other venues to ensure they know their rights when dealing with music licensing agents.
“Small businesses are being unfairly targeted by out-of-state licensing companies. No one is trying to cheat anyone out of fees they’re due, but the harassment and intimidation is unnecessary and needs to stop,” said Van De Wege.