PRS licence reminder following pub ban

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Sound system: operators must ensure they are fully licensed for music (Photo by Richard Clyborne of MusicStrive)
Sound system: operators must ensure they are fully licensed for music (Photo by Richard Clyborne of MusicStrive)

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Operators are being warned to ensure they are fully licensed to play music in venues after one licensee was hit with a bill for £3,200 and banned from playing music.

Mark David Newton, who runs the Weston Mill Hotel, in Plymouth, Devon, was ordered to pay the Performing Rights Society’s (PRS) costs by London’s High Court for breaching rules on playing copyrighted music without a licence.

Newton was also ordered not to play copyrighted music at the pub or any other premises he runs until his licence was brought up to date.

Operators are now being warned to ensure they are operating with the correct licences, or risk facing legal action.

Andy Grimsey, a partner with Poppleston Allen, said: “The licensing of music doesn't just mean under the Licensing Act - where often, due to the Live Music Act and subsequent deregulation, much music before 11pm doesn’t need a licence.

“However, copyright law requires licensees to pay the correct tariff to both PRS and PPL where appropriate. These organisations can take legal action on behalf of their members if fees are unpaid and this recent example shows they do have teeth. Both PPL and PRS have detailed websites and helplines to help calculate the correct fees.”

A PRS for Music spokesperson said: “PRS for Music considers legal action very much a last resort, but unfortunately it is sometimes necessary. Music can have many positive benefits for businesses, and purchasing a music licence for public performance from PRS for Music ensures that the creators of music – songwriters, composers and music publishers – are paid fairly and legitimately for their work.

“A ‘public performance’ is one where music is played or otherwise reproduced outside of the home or domestic areas. This includes live gigs, as well as background music from the TV or radio, from corner shops to your local pub. PRS for Music licences provide businesses with easy access to 22.2 million songs across the musical spectrum.

“In most cases, a business will also require a licence from PPL, who provide royalties to performing artists and record labels.”

The spokesperson said any operators looking for further information and advice can visit the PRS website​. “We are always happy to help and our website also includes advice on how music may be used effectively in business, for example to assist in brand building or differentiate it from competitors, as well as case studies from our customers.” th

In a bid to simplify the situation even further, the spokesperson said the PRS would be teaming up with PPL later this year to launch a joint venture: “The new company, PPL PRS Ltd, will offer one licence called TheMusicLicence, which will simplify the licensing process for our customers.”

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