27 September 2011

Community Groups to Pay to Play Recorded Music

Kenneth Mullen
Partner | UK

Phonographic Performance Limited (‘*PPL*') and PRS for Music (‘*PRS*') are the main UK music ‘collecting societies' responsible for collecting and distributing royalties on behalf of copyright holders. Briefly, PPL licences the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers while PRS separately licences the use of musical works themselves and collects payments on behalf of the composers and publishers.

Up until recently, while charities and not-for-profit organisations had to pay for a PRS licence, they did not need an additional PPL licence in respect of recorded music played at their premises and events. However, the exemptions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which enabled charities and not-for-profit organisations to play copyright-protected sound recordings in public without permission have now been largely reversed.

The reforms

From 1 January 2011 most not-for-profit bodies require a licence from PPL where playing records, tapes, CDs, downloaded music, the radio or television in public or other ‘non-domestic' areas (such as a workplace). However, a one year ‘grace period' applies in order to allow organisations sufficient time to budget for the changes. Accordingly, fees will not be charged until 1 January 2012 and will not be backdated to 1 January 2011.

The changes affect community buildings run by non-statutory not-for-profit organisations, charity shops, small charitable and community organisations and non-governmental not-for-profit organisations. There remains an exemption however for use of recorded music in patient areas on NHS hospital wards, religious services, use in residents' areas of care homes and in relation to medical treatments taking place in NHS hospitals.

The cost of a licence will depend on the type of organisation and the extent to which it uses recorded music. The lowest annual tariff of £40 has been extended to cover more than 60 per cent of buildings where voluntary groups meet. It is also believed that the vast majority of charity shops will pay the lowest tariff of £54 a year with the licence applying to recordings of music played in back office areas as well as the shop floor. However, community halls and youth clubs have been exempted from the proposed charges as these buildings tend to be run on a not-for-profit basis.

In order to simplify the licensing process, PPL and PRS will collaborate to form a joint licensing system for charities and not-for-profit organisations. As such, organisations will only be required to make one payment to obtain a licence from both societies.

Category: Article