12 January 2010

Play that again? Changes to exemptions from public performance rights

The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sections 67 &72(1B) (a) and paragraphs 15 & 18 (1A) (a) of Schedule 2) has long since afforded charities and not for profit organisations an exemption from the need to pay fees in order to be able to play music at events and in public. But whereas charities clearly enjoyed this benefit the music producers and performers did not. It was therefore decided that a consultation should be held to gauge the views of all those affected.

The consultation

The consultation on changes to exemptions from public performance rights in sound recordings and performers’ rights which closed on 31 October 2008 attracted over 100 responses, over half of which were from charities. The consultation set out three possible options:

  1. All exemptions repealed.
  2. Scope of exemptions narrowed to only include small charities with a turnover of less than £20,0000/yr with further exemptions for NHS trusts wishing to play recorded music; or
  3. A removal of the exemptions but the right holders would only be able to charge royalties at a rate which is considered fair by them and the users.

The Government has recently announced that in the light of the consultation it has decided to remove the exemption currently enjoyed by charities and not for profit organisations from paying fees to Phonographic Performance Limited.

The effect of this is that from April 2010 they will have to pay a fixed annual fee for playing music at events or in public places. Exactly how much that fee will be has yet to be decided but the IPO have indicated that they do not anticipate it being more than £100 a year.

Next Steps

The next steps in this process are:

  1. The Government propose to carry out a consultation to decide upon the exact amount of the tariff
  2. The Government must then lay a statutory instrument amending the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988
  3. Implementation will begin in April 2010.

The initial response from the third sector has been one of disappointment but it remains to be seen if those charities who claimed at the outset of the consultation that they would no longer play music or would do so but without paying for the licence if such a change was implemented will actually go ahead as threatened.

For more information please contact Chris Priestley.

Category: Article