BOSTON, MA—February 12, 2019—The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 makes it illegal to play copyrighted material in businesses—like health clubs—without the consent of the copyright owner.

Music copyright laws can be confusing. Simply buying a CD or purchasing a streaming music subscription may not be enough to protect a health club or fitness business from inaccurate interpretations or unfair enforcement of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. To help clubs navigate the murky waters surrounding music copyright law, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has released a legal briefing paper on the topic.

This Music Licensing in the United States briefing paper—free for IHRSA members—will help clarify concerns that club operators have and provide answers to the following questions, and many more:

  • Are clubs required to pay copyright fees?
  • How are they enforced?
  • How are the costs of a music license for clubs determined?
  • Am I legally obligated to pay for a music licensing fee to every performance rights organization (PRO)?
  • What about music for use in classes?
  • What about streaming services?
  • What is IHRSA doing about music copyright fees?

Note: IHRSA based this paper on U.S. law. For questions about copyright law and developments outside the U.S., please contact IHRSA.

While IHRSA recognizes the validity of the Copyright Act of 1976, IHRSA is committed to protecting IHRSA members from inaccurate interpretations and unfair enforcement of the law. Therefore, IHRSA has negotiated group licensing fees for IHRSA members with BMI and ASCAP to help IHRSA Members get the best deal possible on their licensing fees.

About IHRSA Briefing Papers

IHRSA’s briefing papers provide IHRSA members with the health club specific legal information they need to make informed business decisions. They should not be considered legal advice. However, we do suggest members share these documents with their club's attorney, which could substantially cut down on attorney fees associated with research.

IHRSA’s legal briefing papers cover a wide range of topics, including but not limited to employment law, harassment, injury liability, hiring independent contractors, and overseeing kids in clubs.


The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion.

Through IHRSA’s membership (over 9,000 clubs and industry suppliers from 71 countries), partners, and allied federations, IHRSA reaches more than 33,000 fitness facilities, 1 million fitness industry professionals, and 150 million consumers worldwide.