Costa Rica Tourism Businesses Are Subject to Music Copyright Fees

Under Costa Rican law, any music which is heard by customers in a business is subject to copyright recognition fees by the Asociación de Compositores y Autores Musicales de Costa Rica (ACAM).

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This law extends to restaurants, bars, hotels, stores, shopping centers, etc. If the business plays music via a paid-for Spotify account or a CD that they own; copyright recognition fees still apply. This even includes hotels that have TV’s in the rooms in which music may be heard.

ACAM has been sending representatives to collect these fees from businesses for several years throughout Costa Rica. However, it seems that they have recently been taking a more active approach in some areas of the country that were previously left uncontrolled.

The annual ACAM fee per company is determined on a scale based on the number of people expected to hear music in a business. In other words, a restaurant with a twenty person capacity will be responsible for paying a lower rate than a restaurant with an eighty person capacity.

The class of the business may also be taken into consideration when determining the fee. A five-star hotel will be subject to a higher fee than a two-star hotel.

The ACAM representative will likely inform the business owner that the copyright recognition fee can be paid in one annual fee or divided up over several payments, either monthly, every three months or bi-annually. A discounted rate may be given for yearly payments. In a business setting, it can be difficult to determine every musical work that has been played. This is necessary to properly distribute the copyright recognition fee to musicians registered with ACAM.

ACAM determines who will receive the copyright recognition fees by a monitoring system of local TV and radio channels. It is assumed that a business that plays music heard by clientele is playing music similar to what is heard on local TV and radio channels.

ACAM is a legitimate collective management entity created as a non-profit association that controls the playing of copyrighted music in Costa Rica. The association is controlled in Costa Rica by the Ministry of Justice and Peace. At an international level, ACAM is part of the International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies (CISAC), which is based in Paris.

For information on fees owed to ACAM based upon a specific business, it is possible to get in contact with ACAM via their website.

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