Prisons And Hair Dressers Latest To Push Back On Ridiculous Collection Society Demands

from the pay-to-listen dept

We've noticed lately that music collection societies have been going overboard in demanding more and more money from pretty much anyone who listens to music, claiming "public performances" and assuming that they're worth a lot more than they really are -- almost everywhere you turn. mikez sent in two new stories about collection societies -- both involving operations pushing back on the demands.

The first involves prisons in the UK who are refusing to pay the licensing fees, and thus are telling prisoners (hey look, real thieves!) that they can't listen to music any more in any area where multiple people might be (the kitchen, workshops, restrooms, etc.) since others might overhear it. Yes, listening to music in a prison apparently requires a separate performance license.

The second story involves Spanish hairdressers who are similarly refusing to pay and, instead, are telling customers to bring their own MP3 players to listen to their own music, privately.

The really ridiculous thing is that in both cases all this is really doing is harming musicians. When places play music, it actually acts as advertising for that music -- and these collection societies are basically demanding to be paid for having people promote the music of various artists. So the artists get less promotion and don't get money from places like the examples above refusing to pay. Everyone loses!


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ceiling Fan Music, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 10:00am

    I am simple-minded, but what part of playing a recording constitutes an actual performance? A performance is...well, performed, or executed, or done, or enacted. A recording is played. If you paid to see a performance, and onstage someone presented a tapedeck, pushed a 'play' button...

    Isn't language mysterious?

     

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  2.  
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    A Dan (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Promotional value of prisoners

    Technically speaking, I doubt a lot of the prisoners are going to hear music they like and buy a cd or t-shirt, or attend to a live show. And they may not be the people you most want for word-of-mouth advertising purposes. Still, I agree with you. They're certainly not there for the ambiance.

     

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  3.  
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    Matthew Cruse (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Artist vs. Collection Society

    So if an artist is played in a shop, but the collection society isn't paid, then:
    1. The artist gets free advertising
    2. the shop gets a "better ambieance" and draws more customers
    3. the collection society gets nothing
    This, of course, cannot be good for Society as a whole, people are making money and the old legacy players aren't getting anything, oh No!

     

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  4.  
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    CStrube (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:08am

    I think getting a Collection Society to hound after those annoying car drivers blasting their music would be even more effective (and easier) than the bass seeking missile idea I've heard floated around.

    Now if I could just keep those pesky kids off my lawn...

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:11am

    Re: Promotional value of prisoners

    But bear in mind that a lot of those prisoners do get out and have to contribute to society. And part of that will purchasing items, listening to music, and watching tv/movies.

    I know its anecdotal but I started watching Fringe after my brother recommended to me. He started watching it during the last few months of his prison sentence.

     

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  6.  
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    Danny, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:15am

    Great

    I don't know about most folks but I am one of those people that while out shopping or something and I hear a song on that I like I will try to find out what it is (usually by writing done some of the lyrics and searching when I get home or asking someone that works there).

    Willing to bet that a lot of people discover music by means other than what's on MTV/BET/CMT. Cutting off all those off the beaten path ways of discovering new to you music is a big mistake, unless those agencies really think people are dumb enough to blindly buy music anymore.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:18am

    Tell them you welcome any rules that piss off genpop, but they have to verify and enforce that no music is being played anywhere inside the walls all by themselves.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:19am

    Re: Great

    They dont WANT you to discover music by means other than whats on MTV/BET/CMT. Don't you see? If they pick the 40 songs to expose you to then it cuts down on their marketing costs and production costs since they don't have to create more than 40 bands.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:26am

    Re: Great

    I don't know about most folks but I am one of those people that while out shopping or something and I hear a song on that I like I will try to find out what it is (usually by writing done some of the lyrics and searching when I get home or asking someone that works there).


    I do the same thing, and I can't tell you how many stupid songs I've bought off Itunes or Amazon MP3 for .99 cents, I've become a paying music consumer above and beyond the music I already buy and pay for. Good way to kill the cash cow, dummies! (the music industry and collection societies). My dentist subscribes to some satellite music service in his office, one where they never identify the songs or the artists. I spend a couple of dollars after every visit buying MP3s online.

     

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  10.  
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    Tyanna, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:28am

    Re: Artist vs. Collection Society

    If it was actually going to the artists, and if the fee wasn't totally ridiculous in the amount of money the collection society feels is owed, I might be able to see your point.

     

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  11.  
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    Tyanna, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:32am

    Ok, maybe I'm missing something.

    In both those cases I would think that the radio would be where they are getting the music.

    If that's the case, does that mean if you listen to the radio with someone else....it's a performance? Does that mean we are going to start getting charged performance fees if we listen to the radio in a car with other people?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:37am

    Re:

    If they could get away with it today, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

     

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  13.  
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    Cohen (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:47am

    It dates back to a long-lost time

    It's a little easier to understand the reason behind the collection societies demands (I may understand, but I don't agree with them) when you realize that many, many, MANY years ago, live music was found everywhere.

    Fine hotels would have live musicians playing in their lobby restaurants, tea parlors, and ballrooms.

    Even the lowly local bar had a live piano player pumping out a lively tune to keep the atmosphere happy and gay (in the older sense of the word).

    Then, when recorded music and music systems were installed in these places, musicians were out of jobs. The musicians felt they lost their jobs to recorded music which many places felt could be played for free.

    That's when the record industry as well as the musicians unions and other guilds came up with the idea that playing a record in a public place was the same as a public performance. So, while the musicians would no longer collect their salary for playing "live" they would still be compensated by getting a public performance fee.

    It might not have been as much as a live, paying gig, but considering that the musician actually didn't have to do any work, the performance fee seemed like a great idea.

    Two years ago my father died. At the small family gathering we had in the funeral parlour I played one of his favorite songs as people left the room.

    Strictly speaking it was indeed a public performance and I had evaded hiring a live musician. I should have also sent some sort of royalty payment to ASCAP or BMI.

    I didn't.

    I think going into prisons is way overboard. But if restaurants and bars have to pay royalties for their jukeboxes and piped-in music, I can see the rationale for the prisons.

    And as far as hairdressers go, where do you think we got the phrase "Barbershop Quartet?"

    It's not an outrageous expectation of being paid. But it does sound strange to our 21st Century world.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Al the ex-prisoner, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:48am

    Isnt someone already paying?

    While in prison we listened to BET and MTV quite a lot. I would have thought that those stations already pay a licensing fee in order to broadcast the music. So, if they now want the prisoners (or whoever) to pay as well, isn't that like double-dipping?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:49am

    techdirt t-shirts should be free

    If I wear a techdirt t-shirt then I am advertising for techdirt. Since I walk around in public I should get as many free techdirt t-shirts as I can wear, at least one for every day of the week. Charging for t-shirts is hurting screenprinters and that is a shame

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 11:54am

    Re: techdirt t-shirts should be free

    I hope Mike lets you download as many as you want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Artist vs. Collection Society

    Well, with your broken sarcasm detector, I don't think you'd see the point anyway.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Great

    There is music on MTV!?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: techdirt t-shirts should be free

    They are free. Here's an infinite supply of them, enjoy!

    http://clear.msu.edu/dennie/clipart/t-shirt.gif

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: techdirt t-shirts should be free

    Do you really think that prisoners are downloading anything? Probably not.

    Every hairdresser or barber shop I've ever been to has 1 of 3 things, radio, satellite radio or Musak. No downloads there either. While digital music is easy to copy not all music is 'downloadable' - there is not one great repository in the sky that all of the plays/performances originate from.

     

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  21.  
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    Brian (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Great

    Yah they still have music, in some of the commercials that play.

     

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  22.  
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    Brian (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Isnt someone already paying?

    Thats the point, they want as much money as possible from as many places as possible for the same thing.

     

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  23.  
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    mikez (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    on a good note

    The money quote in the prison piece is this:
    The Tories criticised the ban on the playing of recorded music. Alan Duncan, the shadow prisons minister, said: " It seems crazy that a prisoner can listen to a radio in their cell but not when they're doing something useful in the prison estate."


    Some good could come out of this if the members of Parliament become more aware of the absurdities of these things.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    wallow-T, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    public performance

    The licensing of music played in public establishments (i.e. businesses) is really old, settled law. The hairdresser doesn't have a case.

    The interesting question would be whether a prison would count as such an establishment. The prison isn't out there to make money. It's essentially a private residence, similar to a college dorm.

     

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  25.  
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    Krubuntu (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Promotional value of prisoners

    I don't know how it works in the U.K, but here in the States, most prisons allow the inmates to purchase items using commissary and from what I've heard, that includes CD's.

     

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  26.  
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    mike allen (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Isnt someone already paying?

    yes it is All broadcast stations radio and Tv pay thousands to broadcast music in the UK. So yes it is double dipping. in some cases 5 GBP per playing.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Nina Paley, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    That is a great idea. Society (or at least I) really would benefit if the jerk who just idled under my window blasting rap out his car windows, were charged a fee for such "performances."

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Debunked, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Slightly Oversimplified

    Mike quote:
    "The really ridiculous thing is that in both cases all this is really doing is harming musicians."

    The collection societies are for the composers (songwriters), authors and publishers. If the musician is the songwriter and not the performing artist then the above is a stretch because the songwriter would have to give up a sure dollar in hand for some future potential dollar that may never materialize.

    If the songwriter is also the performer and not touring or active than the above is also a stretch.

    If the songwriter is the performing artist and is planning on touring in the near future or is currently touring, then the playing of music in a hair salon acts as a free promo for you. In this instance Mike's statement above would be correct.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Let me understand this.

    If I have one radio and one person listening, that's OK.
    If I have one radio and two people listening, that an unlicensed performance.
    How about two radio's and two people listening, is that OK?
    Does it have to be a whole radio? How about one radio and a speaker for each person listening?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Great

    Sometimes. During commercials. At 3am. Between "reality tv" reruns.

    I recall about 5 years ago I looked at a 24 block of programing on MTV and counted about 8 hours of actual music related material and mind you it wasn't even 8 unique hours but 4 hours played in the afternoon and again in the wee hours.

    I honestly don't know why they still have the nerve to call themselves MTV because the music left the building ages ago.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re:

    If not today there's always tomorrow...

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Re: It dates back to a long-lost time

    It's not an outrageous expectation of being paid. But it does sound strange to our 21st Century world.
    Its strange when you expect the same (if not more) pay in the 21st that you were getting in the 18th.

    Thing is technology has allowed for music to be circulated much more easily and more cheaply yet these agencies are in a mad rush to figure out how to maintain the same profit margin.

    If a business spends 1 billion a year and earns 2 billion but them technology allows that business to spend only 1/2 a billion a year what entitles them to that same 2 billion much less an increase to 3 billion. These companies have concluded that since they are spending less they are somehow entitled to more profit.

    Hell if that is the case then where is the agency setup to make sure horsebuggy drivers and horse ranchers are still getting paid the same money they made before the automobile came along? The one to pay door to door milkmen the same they made before tech allowed for milk to be sold in stores more easily? The one to pay elevator operators the same they made before users started using them on their own?

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Alatar, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Easy ripost

    The ripost is easy to set up : as the Australian clubs did (if I remember well, read it in a Techdirt article), these prisons and shops just have to decide : "from now on we will only broadcast music which is under Creative Commons licence, by intelligent artists and producers who won't come and piss us off with that stupid ad tax".

     

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  34.  
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    TW Burger (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Great - MTV

    I'm not sure there is music on MTV any longer. I can not recall a single time in the past year that I have seen/heard a single bit of music when I stop on MTV while channel surfing. They mostly have programs with brainless twenty-somethings acting like total douche-bags.

    I guess you don't have to pay royalties for douche-baggery.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    be a jailguard today, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    ill bet the guards will enjoy telling them NO MORE RADIO

    yup this will cause them inside ot get even more friendly wont it.
    yup lets make real bad ass criminals worse

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Great - MTV

    The last line of that comment nearly made me choke... I'm voting that my quote for the day.

    "I guess you don't have to pay royalties for douche-baggery."

     

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  37.  
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    Mike Driscoll (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Easy ripost

    Definitely better than Muzak.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Ryan Diederich, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 4:06pm

    I will never...

    Pay to play music in public. The retail store I work in plays Jimmy Buffet in the background, and we have/will never pay any fees. Paying a fee for such a thing is bull, everyone knows, nobody does anything about it. Its all about money.

    Money shouldnt be charged for something with no cost. It didnt cost anyone anything for me to play the music (we bought it on CD). Its not a public performance, and we arent making money off of it. It is f-ing background music.

    People should really start ditching music with fees and limitations and using creative commons.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Spanky, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    re

    Personally, I think its wrong to aid and abet piracy in any way. So I wouldn't want to play music in the car, for example, because someone might overhear and, I don't know, form a band and copy the song rather than just go buy the album.

    In fact, there are so many ways people could overhear the music I play that I just don't play it anymore. Which means I don't buy it anymore. This is a small price to pay, I believe, for bailing out the music industry.

     

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  40.  
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    The Mad Hatter (profile), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 8:03pm

    Collection Societies

    I hate thinking about these guys, I really do. The worst part is that they only benefit the big artists, the small guys, as usual gets screwed. And if they keep pushing this way, they aren't going to benefit the big guys either.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    :), Jan 21st, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    Collecting.

    Stealth collecting agencies, that is what people should really call those.

    They don't tell anyone how much they collect, no where is written they have to divulge that information to those affected.

    Well that is why I don't buy music anymore and movies and other things.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    athe, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 9:11pm

    Re: Slightly Oversimplified

    I'm going to stop going into work everyday. Oh, but I still expect them to pay me.

     

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  43.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:26am

    To me it's perfectly clear

    the recording industry doesn't want any music to be heard. If that's what they want, then that's what they'll get from me. I won't listen to their music again. See if I care. Music is but a minor part of my life, I need food, drinks and good friends above all that.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Chill, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Re: re

    I was going to rage, but that last bit made me laugh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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