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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

If You’re Playing The Star Spangled Banner in Michigan, You’d Better Do It Right

If you’re playing the Star Spangled Banner in Michigan, you’d better do it right, or you may be committing a CRIME! It is a crime to play it wrong under the Michigan Penal Code.

MCL 750.541 provides that no person, firm or corporation, owning or being in control as manager or otherwise, of any theater, motion picture hall, restaurant, cafe or other places in this state where the public gathers, shall permit or allow anyone who plays, sings or performs therein to play, sing or otherwise render “The Star Spangled Banner” in violation of the provisions of this chapter.

If you’re in public, you must NOT play it according to MCL 750.542.  You always have to play the whole song and there can’t be any embellishment and you can’t dance or march to it. Sec. 542 provides that the national hymn or anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”, shall not be played, sung or otherwise rendered in this state in any public place nor at any public entertainment, nor in any theatre, motion picture hall, restaurant or cafe, except as an entire and separate composition or number and without embellishments of national or other melodies; nor shall “The Star Spangled Banner” or any part thereof or selection from the same, be played as a part or selection of a medley of any kind; nor shall “The Star Spangled Banner” be played at or in any of the places mentioned herein for dancing or as an exit march.

If you violate the law, under MCL 750.543, you could be charged with a misdemeanor.

This article was originally published on February 16, 2012.

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