William & Mary Business Law Review


Taylor McGraw


When business owners play music in their establishments, they have either appropriately purchased a public performance license or they are playing the musical composition without permission from the rights holder, ultimately violating the Copyright Act. Business owners commonly use what is known as the Homestyle Exemption, giving them the ability to forego purchasing a license, assuming they can meet the exemption’s requirements. Before the era of music streaming, terrestrial radio was the popular way to consume music, which is reflected in the Homestyle Exemption’s requirement that the music be radio broadcast. Today’s business owners are taking advantage of other music services on the market, services that would not fit under the provisions of the Homestyle Exemption. Congress specifically delineated terrestrial radio under this exception, because it believed allowing such usage within the business would not hurt an artist’s record sales. Non-interactive streaming services should be similarly viewed. These services likewise are not detrimental to an artist’s career, but achieve the same goals outlined by Congress in the Homestyle Exemption, and should be viewed as another way to consume music in the business under this exception.