Discussion:
PRS licensing
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Mike Scott
2019-11-01 11:49:52 UTC
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A PRS/copyright query. There's something here I clearly don't understand
fully.

I've just been asking the PRS to issue a community/charity discount
licence for a forthcoming concert.

They have told me that the premises - a community hall - needs its own
licence, or they'll be in breach of copyright rules.

Is that right? Can the people running such a hall not just require users
to license their own use of material as needed? Or does any
hall-for-hire have to be licensed? (which seems wrong in principle to me!)

(They apparently intend contacting the hall owners; meanwhile they'll
process our request on its own merits)
--
Mike Scott
Harlow, England
The Todal
2019-11-01 19:45:19 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott
A PRS/copyright query. There's something here I clearly don't understand
fully.
I've just been asking the PRS to issue a community/charity discount
licence for a forthcoming concert.
They have told me that the premises - a community hall - needs its own
licence, or they'll be in breach of copyright rules.
Is that right? Can the people running such a hall not just require users
to license their own use of material as needed? Or does any
hall-for-hire have to be licensed? (which seems wrong in principle to me!)
(They apparently intend contacting the hall owners; meanwhile they'll
process our request on its own merits)
My village hall now has to pay a massive fee to the PRS in the region of
1700 pounds per year, to cover everyone who uses the hall. But rather
oddly, the PRS has also asked our amateur drama group, which uses the
hall, to purchase its own licence.

I have written several times to the PRS to seek clarification and they
don't actually reply to correspondence. I want to know whether the
request for payment from individual groups is an error on their part or
whether they now make a huge amount more income from all these fees.
The Marquis Saint Evremonde
2019-11-02 06:47:31 UTC
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Post by The Todal
Post by Mike Scott
A PRS/copyright query. There's something here I clearly don't
understand fully.
I've just been asking the PRS to issue a community/charity discount
licence for a forthcoming concert.
They have told me that the premises - a community hall - needs its
own licence, or they'll be in breach of copyright rules.
Is that right? Can the people running such a hall not just require
users to license their own use of material as needed? Or does any
hall-for-hire have to be licensed? (which seems wrong in principle to me!)
(They apparently intend contacting the hall owners; meanwhile
they'll process our request on its own merits)
My village hall now has to pay a massive fee to the PRS in the region
of 1700 pounds per year, to cover everyone who uses the hall.
Mine doesn't. What was the nature of their demand?
Post by The Todal
But rather oddly, the PRS has also asked our amateur drama group,
which uses the hall, to purchase its own licence.
I have written several times to the PRS to seek clarification and they
don't actually reply to correspondence. I want to know whether the
request for payment from individual groups is an error on their part or
whether they now make a huge amount more income from all these fees.
--
Evremonde
Tim Jackson
2019-11-14 14:39:31 UTC
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On Fri, 1 Nov 2019 19:45:19 +0000, The Todal wrote...
Post by The Todal
Post by Mike Scott
A PRS/copyright query. There's something here I clearly don't understand
fully.
[snip]
Post by The Todal
My village hall now has to pay a massive fee to the PRS in the region of
1700 pounds per year, to cover everyone who uses the hall. But rather
oddly, the PRS has also asked our amateur drama group, which uses the
hall, to purchase its own licence.
It sounds to me as if your hall has the wrong sort of licence for
amateur dramatic performances. Hence the need to purchase one
separately.

PRS offer numerous different types of licence for different purposes.
Performances by an external drama group or choir or orchestra, selling
tickets to the public, wouldn't normally be covered by a flat annual
fee. It would be based on the number of bums on seats, and the hall
would have to make a regular return to PRS (quarterly I think, but I may
be wrong). As well as audience numbers, this also requires details of
the works performed, to help them estimate how much to pass on to
individual copyright holders. [*]

Regular theatres and concert halls with box offices know how many
tickets have been sold and just subtract the PRS fee when they pass the
ticket proceeds to the play/concert organiser. It would be more
difficult for a hall which isn't responsible for ticket sales: they
would have to ask the organiser, and make sure they can charge the
relevant fee on top of the hall hire charge. But that's what PRS really
want them to do.

[*] Works which are out of copyright shouldn't attract any royalty at
all, but it may be difficult to get that across to hall administrators.
Maybe the return they are asked to fill in doesn't make that clear.
Post by The Todal
I have written several times to the PRS to seek clarification and they
don't actually reply to correspondence. I want to know whether the
request for payment from individual groups is an error on their part or
whether they now make a huge amount more income from all these fees.
PRs is really poor at replying to individual queries. Before now I've
phoned and asked how to pay for a performance in a hall with the wrong
sort of licence. The chap on the phone was very helpful and asked for a
return detailing ticket sales and the works performed, so they could
work out how much to charge. I sent it, but never heard anything more.
--
Tim Jackson
***@timjackson.invalid
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The Todal
2019-11-17 11:25:11 UTC
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Post by The Todal
Post by Mike Scott
A PRS/copyright query. There's something here I clearly don't
understand fully.
I've just been asking the PRS to issue a community/charity discount
licence for a forthcoming concert.
They have told me that the premises - a community hall - needs its own
licence, or they'll be in breach of copyright rules.
Is that right? Can the people running such a hall not just require
users to license their own use of material as needed? Or does any
hall-for-hire have to be licensed? (which seems wrong in principle to me!)
(They apparently intend contacting the hall owners; meanwhile they'll
process our request on its own merits)
My village hall now has to pay a massive fee to the PRS in the region of
1700 pounds per year, to cover everyone who uses the hall. But rather
oddly, the PRS has also asked our amateur drama group, which uses the
hall, to purchase its own licence.
I have written several times to the PRS to seek clarification and they
don't actually reply to correspondence. I want to know whether the
request for payment from individual groups is an error on their part or
whether they now make a huge amount more income from all these fees.
By way of a followup, after several months of silence the PRS wrote to
me to apologise for their error and to confirm that where the owners of
the performance hall have paid them the necessary fee there is no need
for groups such as ours to pay any additional fee.

Tim Jackson
2019-11-14 14:39:42 UTC
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On Fri, 1 Nov 2019 11:49:52 +0000, Mike Scott wrote...
Post by Mike Scott
A PRS/copyright query. There's something here I clearly don't understand
fully.
I've just been asking the PRS to issue a community/charity discount
licence for a forthcoming concert.
They have told me that the premises - a community hall - needs its own
licence, or they'll be in breach of copyright rules.
Is that right? Can the people running such a hall not just require users
to license their own use of material as needed? Or does any
hall-for-hire have to be licensed? (which seems wrong in principle to me!)
(They apparently intend contacting the hall owners; meanwhile they'll
process our request on its own merits)
Permitting the use of a hall for an unlicensed performance of a
copyright work is a secondary infringement of copyright, for which the
hall operator may be liable if the concert organiser doesn't pay.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/25

PRS would much rather issue blanket licences to halls (and get regular
returns about performances there), rather than try to chase individual
choirs, orchestras and drama groups.
--
Tim Jackson
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Mike Scott
2019-11-14 15:38:09 UTC
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Post by Tim Jackson
On Fri, 1 Nov 2019 11:49:52 +0000, Mike Scott wrote...
Post by Mike Scott
A PRS/copyright query. There's something here I clearly don't understand
fully.
I've just been asking the PRS to issue a community/charity discount
licence for a forthcoming concert.
They have told me that the premises - a community hall - needs its own
licence, or they'll be in breach of copyright rules.
Is that right? Can the people running such a hall not just require users
to license their own use of material as needed? Or does any
hall-for-hire have to be licensed? (which seems wrong in principle to me!)
(They apparently intend contacting the hall owners; meanwhile they'll
process our request on its own merits)
Permitting the use of a hall for an unlicensed performance of a
copyright work is a secondary infringement of copyright, for which the
hall operator may be liable if the concert organiser doesn't pay.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/25
I did ask one of the committee of the group about this. Apparently they
do, on the hire form, explicitly warn hirers that they need to obtain
their own PRS licence. whether that's enough to satisfy the Act,
presumably only a court could decide.
Post by Tim Jackson
PRS would much rather issue blanket licences to halls (and get regular
returns about performances there), rather than try to chase individual
choirs, orchestras and drama groups.
And far more lucrative. The majority of the regular hall users have no
need for a PRS licence - children's groups, bowling, etc. Yet the
licence fee would, AIUI, be levied on the income from all those activities.

Thanks for the comment. (We did get our own licence issued, by the way,
under their community/charity scheme.)
--
Mike Scott
Harlow, England
Tim Jackson
2019-11-14 16:12:24 UTC
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On Thu, 14 Nov 2019 15:38:09 +0000, Mike Scott wrote...
Post by Mike Scott
The majority of the regular hall users have no
need for a PRS licence - children's groups, bowling, etc.
Depends whether they are playing any copyright works. I bet some of the
hall's users are. Background music? Pass the parcel games?
--
Tim Jackson
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Mike Scott
2019-11-15 08:33:43 UTC
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Post by Tim Jackson
On Thu, 14 Nov 2019 15:38:09 +0000, Mike Scott wrote...
Post by Mike Scott
The majority of the regular hall users have no
need for a PRS licence - children's groups, bowling, etc.
Depends whether they are playing any copyright works. I bet some of the
hall's users are. Background music? Pass the parcel games?
Doubtful for Brownies and Rainbows. I'm pretty sure the bowls are
"conversation only". Zumba's another matter, and I'd assume they've been
told to license themselves. The issue would be whether that's enough to
satisfy the legal requirements. If it were up to me, the hire form would
have a clause about indemnifying the hall about copyright liability.

I'm just glad the hall as a whole isn't my problem! Our choir just gets
some of the side-scatter, as it were.
--
Mike Scott
Harlow, England
Tim Jackson
2019-11-15 23:42:12 UTC
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On Fri, 15 Nov 2019 08:33:43 +0000, Mike Scott wrote...
Post by Mike Scott
Doubtful for Brownies and Rainbows. I'm pretty sure the bowls are
"conversation only". Zumba's another matter, and I'd assume they've been
told to license themselves. The issue would be whether that's enough to
satisfy the legal requirements. If it were up to me, the hire form would
have a clause about indemnifying the hall about copyright liability.
As secondary infringers, the hall would only be liable to pay if the
zumba class and other users didn't. But in that event, PRS could choose
to go for the easiest target, which might well be the hall. The hall
might not have enough information about the users' music usage to
counter an excessive demand, and would then be in a position of chasing
the users after the fact.
--
Tim Jackson
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