If You Play Your Radio Loud Enough For Your Neighbor To Hear, Is It Copyright Infringement?
from the maybe-so dept
In the past, we’ve wondered about the business logic of various music performance societies suing restaurants and bars for playing a music without a license. However, we never denied that it was well within their legal rights to go after these places for not getting a license for performance rights. It just didn’t seem very smart from the business side of things. Still, it’s not hard to go from the question of whether or not restaurants should pay for performance rights when playing music to rather ridiculous situations. Take, for example, the case that reader El Nege points us to in the UK, where a car repair firm is being sued because its mechanics listened to their personal radios too loud.
It’s not difficult at all to figure out what’s going on here. The mechanics working out in the garage have radios playing while they work, and there’s plenty of noise in the garage, so they’re likely to turn those radios up. Customers in the enclosed area next to the garage are certainly likely to hear that music… but is it really a public performance? The Performing Rights Society in the UK certainly thinks so, which is why they’re suing. The repair firm, Kwik-Fit, has a pretty weak response, saying that it’s banned personal radios for ten years. Instead, it should be fighting back on the idea that this is a public performance in any way. Otherwise, you get into all sorts of trouble. If you have the windows open in your home and are listening to your legally owned music (or your TV!) and your neighbor can hear it, is that a public performance? What if you live in an apartment building with thin walls? What about when you’re driving with the radio on and the windows open? What if you’re in your cubicle and the folks in the cubicles around you can hear the music? At which point do we realize how silly this becomes? It’s difficult to see how, with a straight face, anyone in the music industry can claim that any of these situations represents harm done to them.