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Retailers must pick up tab for keeping customers entertained

UK copyright group Performance Rights Society (PRS) for Music has rejected the suggestion the organisation charges multiple parties licencing fees for the same performance.

However spokeswoman Olivia Chapman reiterated that licences paid for by the Island's broadcasters do not extend to businesses who play the radio for customers or employees.

“This is a separate requirement, and copyright law stipulates permission is required to play or perform music in public in a business premises — irrespective of the type of device used,” she said.

“During our recent conversations with businesses, the question has been asked as to why a licence is needed to cover music played via TV or radio in a premises given that radio and TV broadcasters are also required to obtain a music licence. These are two different licensing requirements which cover very different activities.”

During a recent public meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, attendees expressed numerous concerns about a promised increase presence of PRS in the Island, and its potential impact on already struggling businesses and suggested coming together to negotiate rates as a group.

One of the chief concerns was that the company would be “double dipping,” charging both radio broadcasters and businesses playing the radio licencing fees for the same performance.

Several attendees also expressed concern that if a nightclub were to hire a DJ or musician who plays copyrighted music, both the performer and the venue would be forced to pay for licences.

Ms Chapman said in the case of a club hiring a performer, the proprietor of the premises would be responsible for obtaining a licence to cover all music use on the property.

“In the case of a nightclub this would usually be the club operator who would obtain a music licence and this is renewed annually,” she said. “We would not look to also license the DJ playing music at a licensed venue.”

On the matter of fees, Ms Chapman said the organisation's general tariff is available online, but they are not opposed to speaking with groups such as Bermuda Music Users Group (BMUG) about any concern they might have.

“Where an individual or group has expressed a concern directly with us about our licensing schemes, practices or processes we will look to have a dialogue in order to clarify the issue and do what we can to resolve it,” Ms Chapman said. “The starting point for us is to hear what the specific issues are, who holds them and how they arise.

“We're not opposed to speaking to any groups or individuals about the concerns they have. We often engage groups to share information and best practice when it comes to music copyright and licensing.

“While we are not obliged to, we think it's good practice in certain instances to consult with licensees and/or their representative bodies and recognised trade bodies about changes we propose to make to our licensing schemes. It's worth noting that our consultation processes vary depending on the rights and customer groups being considered and the extent of the changes proposed.”

According to the tariff, a bar or restaurant that seats 100 people or less and plays music on a stand alone radio would be expected to pay an annual fee of £97.68 ($157.85). The same restaurant, if using a CD or MP3 player, would pay £195.37 ($315.72).

For shops and stores, the annual licencing fee is based on the “audible area”, starting at £81.40 ($131.54).

Useful website: http://www.prsformusic.com/users/businessesandliveevents/musicforbusinesses

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Published October 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm)

Retailers must pick up tab for keeping customers entertained

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