Senate Bill No. 499
(By Senators Craigo, Anderson and Chafin)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported March 2, 1995.]
A BILL to amend chapter forty-seven of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article two-a, relating to
copyrighted works; legislative findings; definitions;
applicability; contracts between proprietors and copyright
owners; publication requirement; defense in civil action;
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter forty-seven of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article two-a, to read
ARTICLE 2A. COPYRIGHT PROTECTION.
§47-2A-1. Legislative findings.
The Legislature finds and declares that:
(a) Under the copyright laws of the United States, a
copyright owner may enforce the rights thereof against the owners
of restaurants, bars, retail establishments, entertainment and
sports facilities and similar places of business where members of
the public may assemble for the public performance of music and
other similar copyrighted works, whether it be in person by a
performing artist hired by the proprietor or on radio stations or
other electronic media transmitted, received and rebroadcast by
the proprietor at those places of business;
(b) The rights and responsibilities regarding copyrighted
works are set forth in clause eight, section VIII, article I of
the constitution of the United States and governed statutorily by
Title 17 of the United States code. The Legislature believes it
is important that the state of West Virginia assist its business
owners who utilize copyrighted materials and the creative artists
of this state and elsewhere by ensuring that the holders of
copyrights and those who use such materials are equitably
As used in this article:
(1) "Copyright owner" means the owner of a copyright of a
nondramatic musical or similar work recognized and enforceable under the copyright laws of the United States pursuant to Title
17 of the United States Code, Public Law 94-553.
(2) "Performing rights society" means an association or
corporation that licenses the public performance of nondramatic
musical works on behalf of copyright owners, such as the American
society of composers, authors and publishers, broadcast music,
inc., and SESAC, inc.
(3) "Proprietor" means the owner of a retail establishment,
restaurant, inn, bar, tavern, sports or other entertainment
facility or any other similar place of business located in this
state in which the public may assemble to hear nondramatic
musical works or similar copyrighted works be performed,
broadcast or otherwise transmitted for the enjoyment of the
members of the public there assembled.
(4) "Royalty" or "royalties" means the fees payable to the
copyright owner or performing rights society for the public
performance of nondramatic musical or other similar work.
§47-2A-3. Publication of royalty rates; notice requirement;
sanctions for failure to publish.
(a) Any copyright owner or performing rights society seeking
to charge a proprietor or proprietors a royalty or fee for the
performance for the public of nondramatic musical or similar
works, shall, at least annually provide notice of the royalty or fee rate and the means of its computation to said proprietor or
(b) The notice referred to in subsection (a) of this section
shall be satisfied if the copyright owner or performing rights
society publishes the required information in a Class II-0 legal
advertisement in a qualified newspaper published in this state
with a bona fide circulation of forty thousand or more.
(c) Failure of a copyright owner or performing rights
society to meet the publication requirements of this section
shall constitute a complete defense to any civil action brought
by a copyright owner or performing rights society seeking to
recover royalties in circumstances where no contract exists
between such parties regarding royalties.
This article does not apply to contracts between copyright
owners or performing rights societies and broadcasters licensed
by the federal communications commission, except that if a
copyright owner or performing rights society is licensed by the
federal communications commission, this article shall apply to
contracts between that copyright owner or performing rights
society and a proprietor as otherwise provided herein.