DJ Digital Grace Period Ends

February 2006

Live Music industry, record labels
By Tom Frederikse, solicitor, Clintons

The Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) grace period, in which the £100 penalty for DJs who have already operated without a licence was waived, ended on 1 January 2006. The “surcharge” is now payable by all DJs obtaining a Digital DJ Licence for the first time. Since September 2005, DJs that play out using digital copies of their records have needed a licence to make and keep a “digital DJ database”. The PPL (the collection society for airplay and public performance royalties which acts on behalf of record companies and musicians) introduced the licence last year to facilitate the fast-growing trend for DJs to perform with computers and MP3-style music files. In the UK, a music consumer (including a DJ) has no legal right to make digital copies of their music even when the original source is a CD legitimately purchased by that consumer. The annual Digital DJ Licence costs £200 per year, plus a one-off 50% surcharge for DJs who have already used their digital database of copies without a licence. Under the Digital DJ Licence, DJs are allowed to copy any sound recording (including CDs, vinyl records and digital downloads, provided they are PPL-controlled) legally onto their computers for use when DJing in public. The licence is limited to the creation of a DJ Database of up to 20,000 tracks at any one time (to allow for updates). A back-up database of the digital copies may also be kept on a separate computer. DJs who take the licence may also have to, on request, give PPL a list of all the tracks on their database (or all tracks played at a particular event) to assist the accurate distribution of licence revenue to the copyright holders. DJs should note that the Digital DJ Licence is not required for those playing only vinyl and/or CD records and, even with the licence, the normal public performance licences are still required (though these are most often obtained by the venue). In some cases, venues may refuse to let a DJ perform if the digital files are not properly licensed.

PPL guidance on the Digital DJ Licence can be accessed at:$file/Digital_DJ_Licence_FAQs.pdf

The full text of the Digital DJ Licence can be accessed at:$file/Digital_DJ_Licence_Terms_and_Conditions.pdf

Clintons website is at . This article is for general advice only and should not be taken as specific legal advice on this subject.

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