Is workplace music licencing ‘double taxation’?

April 2012


Back in September 2011 the 1709 Blog posted a very interesting blog titled “two may be company but can one be a crowd?” – which attracted a wide range of comments – on how copyright should define the use of private radios in the workplace – and the interpretation put on the current legal provisions in the UK of the use of radios in public places by PPL and PRS, the UK’s recorded music and music publishing collection societies.

Now Andrew Harrison, the boss of the RadioCentre, the trade body that represents the commercial radio sector, has called on the UK government to change the current regime so that those who listen to or provide radio services in public places do not need a an additional music licence beyond that already paid for by the broadcaster. Harrison was speaking at the Westminster Media Forum about government plans to review the Communications Act, and whilst his talk included pleas to de-regulate the radio sector and remove the current ‘genre’ licensing governing the music commercial radio stations can play, saying this was “a blunt instrument in an era of infinite music choice available through smartphones, downloads and streaming” , it was his comments on music licensing that caught my eye.

Harrison said his members felt there was now a “disproportionate cost to our business of copyright for licensing music in the digital age”, and focussed on the fact that any business owner wanting to play the radio on their premises, even just for staff, needed their own (additional) licences from PPL and PRS, in what Harrison dubs “double taxation”. An interesting battle could ensue – with the RadioCentre calling for a change in public performance licensing rules at a time when the collecting societies seem to be pushing more strongly than ever for workplace music licences.

You can download the speech in full here

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