Performing Rights – should everyone be sued?

My office has just had a phone call from the Performing Rights Society (asking for a company that ceased to exist 10 years ago, natch) demanding that we take our a PRS license on the basis that some people in the office listen to personal MP3 players. Sounds like crap to me, but their leaflet is even more vague:

By law under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, if you use copyright music in public (i.e. outside of the home), you must first obtain permission from every writer or composer whose music you intend to play.

Essentially they are asserting that every time you walk out of your front door and put your iPod on you are breaching copyright. I’ve never thought about this before, maybe that is the letter of the law, but in that case isn’t the law an arse?


  1. Blimey, what a shockingly wilful misinterpretation of the law. “Playing in public” means “Playing to the public” not “Listening privately in a public place”. Talk about trying to give copyright owners a bad name…

  2. I read something about this a few weeks ago (maybe the start of their campaign?). What they seemed to be targeting in that article was, for example, Kwik-fit I think was mentioned, where you go to a mechanic and he’s under a car with the radio or music player turned on and anyone coming in to the place (ie the public, a customer) can hear it. So it didn’t appear to cover someone listening through headphones.

  3. I have just been contacted by this society and been advised that I need to pay some £1800 per annum for hotel guests to view and listen to music in their rooms.
    We pay for a Television Licence for the hotel.
    The law states that once you have reserved a room in a hotel, it becomes your private residence,so any viewing of tv or listening to radio is deemed to be private.

  4. We are a small office based in the central belt of Scotland and we are being harassed by a representative of the performing rights who is insisting on getting entry to our office and demanding that we pay a fee to listen to the radio! We are an all female team and reluctant to let this man in, if we did listen to a radio this type of harassment would make me want to cut the plug of the blessed thing!!!

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