View Full Version : theme/amusment park licence?

10-13-2010, 10:29 PM
tonight someone banged on my haunt door telling me i need to have a licence because a haunted house is considered a theme park. this will cost me 63 cents per paying costomer. had i known about this before the season i could have raised my admission price a dollar. has anyone else had this problem before and if so can i get some advice of whats to be expected? she also told me this is the federal gov and they will be watching us this year to make sure we dont have any music or sounds that will infringe on copyright laws. she wants me to get virgil from midnight syndacate to make a contract stating i can use his music out front of my facade. i told her all he asks is to have his poster on display to use it but she needs it in writing. just hope i can get this from him by friday.

10-14-2010, 10:06 AM
What state are you in and did you ask to see her credentials? If she really is a Gov employee for the state or Federal gov, she will have them. But the whole thing sounds shady to me. I've never heard of anyone needing a Theme Park license unless that's some unique state law issue. And if she works for a permit division, why is she wanting your music info. That's something that is handled by BMI, SESAC, ASCAP, or SoundExchange. Gov could care less if your violating copyright. The artist or label is the one who would have to sue you for the violation. Something doesn't smell right about her. She's not saying you have to pay her the .63 per person at the end of the week or something? If I were you, I would call the Secretary of State Office and start asking about this. Always check out those who claim to be officials of any type. Too many scam artist or Gov works over stepping their bounds.

10-14-2010, 01:50 PM
im in louisiana,and yes she gave me paperwork for ascap but told me she works for the federal gov. something dosnt seem right to me either

10-14-2010, 02:05 PM
If not a scammer i would think she could be an lawyer or private investegator of some sort..

10-14-2010, 02:15 PM

I've dealt with them before in a variety of different fields. They issue licenses for various industries that use music. Evidently amusement parks are one of them.

Call the main office and rip her a new one. She may have mentioned some federal laws but if she tried to make herself sound loike a federal employee she needs to be arrested. And if they plan on hanging around to check your music, make sure they pay admission.

10-14-2010, 03:07 PM
Ok, if she works for the Federal Government, she should be able to provide credentials for what department of the gov she works for. The only thing I could think, is the IRS may want you to classify as a theme park, but I doubt that unless you've got 50,000 people coming thru your haunt and a roller coaster in the back. And why is she carrying around ASCAP papers? Unless Midnight Syndicate is a member of ASCAP, you don't owe them a dime. Plus, he gives permission to haunts to play his stuff as long as you tell him and put up one of his posters if I remember correctly. Something doesn't sound right about the whole situation and I would would ask her for her credentials and then tell her that you will follow up with what ever division she works for by calling them direct. I've never heard of someone from the fed doing ASCAP work (which has nothing to do with the federal gov) and theme park permit work (which is a state permit issue) at the same time. This just screams scam to me.

And ShawnMC is right, pretending to be a federal government employee is a crime.

10-14-2010, 08:43 PM
Sounds like you're dealing with one of the music licensing groups (ASCAP/BMI/ect). If you were required to have a federal license to operate an amusement park (which I've never heard of being done on a federal level) then I doubt that'd charge you per head. ASCAP on the other hand will, and they will be ruthless and make whatever threats necessary. I worked at a concert venue who got hit with a $5,000 a month bill. When we tried to fight it they claimed they would start collecting the back royalties that we hadn't been paying, unless we cooperated. It's hard to fight these guys, but if you're careful it can be done. As long as you're sure you're not playing any licensed music you have something to stand on. But they will watch you, and the second you screw up they will fine you. They've been known to send "spys" to bars and clubs to see if they're playing licensed music. It's essentially a legal shakedown.

The line about requiring written permission from Virgil is bull. Unless he's with ASCAP (and I doubt they'd know in the first place) you don't need written permission. It's not the job of ASCAP to enforce ALL copyrights. They're a private organization and have no right to do so.

Expect more visits. Usually when ASCAP shows up BMI is not far behind.

10-14-2010, 08:57 PM
Virgil, Midnight Syndicate, Jerry Vayne, Nox Arcana, and most all other ambient haunt composers mention that they are royalty-free either on their website or CD liner notes. Find those and show this person.

Unless they is a LOT more specific with her credentials, you should arrange a meeting between you, her and a local sheriff to discuss further....

10-15-2010, 11:02 AM
Years ago I owned a tanning salon. Best job I ever had, everyone was in a good mood. Sorry for the digression. Anyway, we had music playing in the salon but I found out through the tanning association that when you decide the music for your patron, you will owe the ASCAP fee and BMI fee. If they present (slap on your counter) a contract when they come into your business and hear the music, you are fighting a very big bucks backed company. And I was under the impression that if you were signed with one, the other would leave you alone.

Now the kicker. In the salon we got rid of the salon music and installed boom boxes in every tanning room. The customer could now decide what they wanted to listen to. They loved it because they would bring in their own music, too. By that simple change, we were no longer violating anything because we were not deciding the music. The cosst of the boom boxes was almost equal to one years fees from ASCAP, so it was a good business decision all around.

Rush forward to today. We "haunters" play lots of music from lots of artists and do decide very precisely what our customers hear.

Today, I recieved the request of a "First Offer" from ASCAP. Our event uses all Virgil, Midnight Syndicate, and locally produced music and sounds so we really aren't violating anything. We are aware of the ASCAP and BMI claim.

After reviewing the proposal, we will sign it, pay for it, and rest easy for the future. It is a small price to pay to avoid any issues for now and the future. The price is reasonable based on attendance. It is possible for us to maintain our music like it is, but with this we will be able to play anything in the future without any legal problems.

10-15-2010, 12:46 PM
If your music is yours, you paid someone to create it or bought it from a source that approves this use, then this is a scam. Do you guys really think the people who wrote that music will see a DIME of what is collected? So your paying ASCAP just to be ASCAP. This is no less a shakedown than a gang of thugs demanding protection money!

If the haunt Ďassociationsí are worth ANYTHING they should be looking into what legal actions the haunted house industry has in response to this...... just saying.......

10-16-2010, 07:53 AM
It's not a scam, it's just the way ASACAP/BMI work. They are legit, even if their tactics are shady and misleading and possibly illegal. Brett had the right idea. As much as I'd hate to give in to these guys, they're very hard to fight. You can try blowing them off, but eventually it might come to a court battle. For what they want you to pay, it's easier just to pay the fee and then you have the right to play any music they license, not just the royalty free stuff you've obtained. The venue I worked at decided not to fight them and just pay the fees. We even stopped our "rave" nights since the DJ royalties were much higher. And the real kicker, they charged us as a food and drink establishment and not a concert venue, because as they said, we don't have permanent seats so that's the category they claim we fall into. Sure we could have fought it, but you're looking at a lengthy legal battle with a company who has some very high priced lawyers.

Funny, you wouldn't think a non-profit who is supposed to be helping musicians get the royalties they're due would become known for such ruthless tactics. In the end they do pay out to the musicians though, but they sure do leave plenty of money to pay their lawyers.

10-16-2010, 09:35 AM
The problem is everyone here is assuming this person is with ASCAP or BMI which we don't know. All that we do know is that she claimed to be from the Federal Gov which makes her not a ASCAP rep as they are a private entity. She just had the paperwork for ASCAP on here and talking about WIPP needing a theme park license. That's what makes the whole thing smell like a scam.

Wipp, did you ever find out any more about her or did she contact you again yet?

10-16-2010, 11:45 AM
i havnt heard anymore from them but im assuming this was one of their bullying tactics. im still unclear on something tho. lets say i put the radio on by the ticket booth. is someone going to write down every song that was played and then they pay each band royalties? i have a hard time believing that.i think its more like pay us to be quiet. i did get virgil to call her and let her know we have permission to use midnight syndacate but i feel they were out of their boundries with this alone because i doubt virgil is with ascap

10-16-2010, 02:31 PM
If you're playing the radio and you're paying royalties to ASCAP, they decide how to divide the money up to their artists. I'm not entirely sure how they decide who gets what. They might use airplay statistics to get a sampling of it. But they aren't going to ask you to report exactly what songs have been played. You will be required to pay them to play the radio though. It's simply something you can't get around. IF this person really is from ASCAP/BMI/ect then you should just pay the fee, since it frees yourself from a new headache and it allows you to now play licensed music in your haunt, not just the royalty-free stuff. If it really was ASCAP/BMI then you'll likely hear from them again.