PRS Threatens Woman For Playing Radio To Her Horses Without Paying A Licensing Fee

from the this-is-called-extortion dept

When I was in the UK recently, I was surprised to hear just how much most folks hate PRS — the collections society in charge of getting various businesses to pay for playing music. PRS is also the group that has caused music videos to be pulled from YouTube after demanding much more money than was economically feasible. But, where PRS really shines is in threatening tons of small businesses. Over the years, we’ve had stories on PRS threatening car repair shops, because mechanics in the garage were playing their radios loud enough that customers in the waiting room could hear them. That’s a public performance, according to PRS. Then they went after a police station because some cops were listening to radios. Then they went after a children’s charity for singing Christmas carols without paying up. The group has even been known to call up small businesses and if they hear music in the background, demand payment, including one case involving a guy working at home with his dog. Apparently, that constitutes a “public performance.”

The latest (sent in by a few folks) is that PRS has now threatened a woman who plays classical music to her horses in her stable to keep them calm. She had been turning on the local classical music station, saying that it helped keep the horse calm — but PRS is demanding £99 if she wants to keep providing such a “public performance.” And it’s not just a one-off. Apparently a bunch of stables have been receiving such calls.

Obviously, this is not a case of random excessive attempts by PRS to squeeze more money out of people. It’s become systematic. The group seems to believe that playing music in almost any situation now constitutes a public performance and requires a licensing fee. You just know they’re salivating over the opportunity to go after people playing music in their cars with the windows down.

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Comments on “PRS Threatens Woman For Playing Radio To Her Horses Without Paying A Licensing Fee”

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74 Comments
Chosen Reject says:

Re: Re:

Doesn’t the radio station already pay a license for this? It sounds like double dipping. If they were playing from a CD, it’d be slightly less unreasonable, but the radio station presumably already pays for the performance rights to broadcast the music. Does each worker/horse need their own radio then?

Weird Harold says:

Re: Re: Wither WH?

You know, this simplistic baiting is just beneath all of you. I happen to have a relatively height-weight proportionate build, so referring to me as a fat ba*tard is really not only unkind, but inaccurate. I am not fat.

As to the horse issue, don’t get into such a lather! It should be obvious that the owner of the horses is gaining more than the traditional value from the radio play. Her horses are getting a form of therapy, if you will, and this has value far beyond just the “listening to music” variety. If the owner had to find some other form of treatment for her horses, you can bet it would cost a pretty penny.

In this case, she is benefiting from free horse-therapy, and meanwhile we can safely assume that the benefit – namely advertising revenue – to those who are providing this service is being lost on horses who, even if they understood the advertisements and wanted to buy, couldn’t… due to the lack of opposable thumbs with which to pony up their debit card.

So, why the long faces? Just accept the fact that these licensing bodies have the right to collect a fair sum for a fair service. Here, have an apple.

wh

ToySouljah says:

Re: Re: Re: Wither WH?

lmao…”In this case, she is benefiting from free horse-therapy, and meanwhile we can safely assume that the benefit – namely advertising revenue – to those who are providing this service is being lost on horses who, even if they understood the advertisements and wanted to buy, couldn’t… due to the lack of opposable thumbs with which to pony up their debit card.”

People might rag on your comments, but I thought that was hilarious. I do sense a bit of sarcasm as well so hopefully that is the case.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

How Can

How anybody could ever possibly defend this group as being good these days is beyond me. I think you need to be lacking in the mental dept to think these guys care about anything other than the money.

With as many people as they have tried to push around in the UK, aren’t the citizens able to have the government do something? Or is their government over there as bought out as ours is on this side of the pond?

Weird Harold's former #5 fan says:

I’m assuming that the radio station has already paid for a license to play the music in the first place. If so, aren’t these guys trying to license the same “public performance” multiple times?

I mean, is it a “public performance” if each of her 4 employees had their own radio all playing the same station?

B says:

Re: stupid question....

The music is public domain, but oftentimes the performance will be copyrighted. For instance… if the Boston Orchestra performed something by Bach, the original Bach music would be public domain… but the recording by the Boston Orchestra could be “protected.”

silly, eh?

Basically public domain means the Boston Orchestra didn’t have to pay royalties… that’s it.

Overcast says:

The more I read about the history of the music industry, the more I realize it’s absolutely not about money, but maintaining control.

It could be said – that the harder you squeeze, the more will sift through your fingers… 🙂

It’s ok – eventually the market will ‘respond’.

Question too – what IF I was say – standing somewhere and heard music from an open-air concert – wouldn’t the venue where the music is being played, be liable for a ‘public performance’ if people outside of the ticket-payers hear it?

What about nightclubs? Why aren’t they going after them – people on the street can hear music.

Come on PRS – get them all!!

People on buses with headphones – I can hear those sometimes.

Jukeboxes playing loud – can sometimes walk by a bar and hear it.

Elevator music? Music in shopping stores? What about music being played on a TV in someone’s house and another person passes by?

I’m curious too – do they have music on hold on their phone switch? (PRS) if they do – and I call them and put it on speakerphone – aren’t they liable as well for a ‘public performance’?

Petr says:

Re: Re:

RE:
I’m curious too – do they have music on hold on their phone switch? (PRS) if they do – and I call them and put it on speakerphone – aren’t they liable as well for a ‘public performance’?

That’s actually subject to public performance license you need to hold as business to play non-royalty free music.

Wayne Myer (profile) says:

PRS, ASCAP: pretty funny way to spell 'evil'

This sounds like the typical shenanigans of ASCAP here in the states. I managed nightclubs between 1991 and 1994. One particular nightclub received all of its music through pools and label service, that is, music specifically provided by record labels for the purpose of getting rotation in the club market.

An ASCAP rep came nosing around that club one night, asking the DJ the names of a few different tracks. Sure enough, a letter from ASCAP showed up in the mail a few days later, requesting an exorbitant licensing fee. I knew where this club stood in terms of legality of public performance, so I told the rep he could cram it. He first made noise about legal action and I responded that he could then tell the artists and labels he supposedly represents why those pieces of music were no longer making onto playlists in this market.

A funny thing happened: the “license” fees kept dropping. A series of letters offered to “settle this matter” for decreasing amounts of money, from initial ~$1200/mo down to about $5/week. And then finally he went away when it was obvious there was just no money coming.

Not to belabor the obvious or otherwise preach to the choir, but these performance licensing organizations truly have about next to nothing to do with protecting the artist.

Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

Re: PRS, ASCAP: pretty funny way to spell 'evil'

A funny thing happened: the “license” fees kept dropping. A series of letters offered to “settle this matter” for decreasing amounts of money, from initial ~$1200/mo down to about $5/week. And then finally he went away when it was obvious there was just no money coming.

I suspect that, in common with the UK, your “collectors” are paid solely on commission – the more fear they can strike into a business, the higher the settlement and the greater their paycheque. (paycheck)

When I worked in the basement of a computer shop repairing machines I witnessed a couple of roaming self-employed “enforcement officers” arguing whether or not they could send a summons because they heard a burst of the radio when I opened the door to come out to talk to them. There was a definite hint of desperation in their voices.

Overcast says:

Another question – PRS seems to be in violation of copyright law on their own web page….

This is purely an excerpt [sic] from their page:

Internationally renowned chip tune musician Pixelh8 makes his music from reprogramming vintage computer systems such as the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Game Boy. His unique blend of electronica has taken him across the globe, performing at Microdisco in Berlin, Apple iTunes…

http://www.prsfoundation.co.uk/guestofthemonth/index.htm

I do not see any note of those ‘brand names’ showing as trademarks of their respective companies, nor do they mention anything about that – can they just use those names without permission? I thought they were trademarked?

Seems it would be hard to get permission from the ‘Commodore’ corporation – but are those trademarks still good? Not even sure if they exist – but Apple most certainly does – hasn’t Apple sued for exactly this before?

Overcast says:

As a matter of fact – on their ‘legal’ page – they CLAIM the text on the web page is THEIRS – would that include brand names such as the above – particularly when they do not site that those are NOT their trademarks/copyrights or even mention they are used with permission?

Quote:

The text, PRS Foundation logo, and graphical elements on this website (the “Site”) are Copyright © 2001-2008 The Performing Right Society Foundation. All rights reserved.

At least – one could be led to believe that, correct?

Jesse says:

This again raises the question: why should people have to pay a license to play the radio? The music has already been licensed. It is being broadcast indiscriminately. So basically a guy listens to a radio in his car, and then walks into a business and hears the same station and all of a sudden that is a new public performance?

What if a business had an individual radio for each person in the store…is it still a public performance then? Why not just charge people every day they wake up, because they will inevitably hear music that day? (In addition to charging radio stations and businesses, of course.)

Jim says:

End Game

The final solution is to charge each and every person(or horse) a fee for each and every time they hear a song or(insert any activity here). Knowing that it will be impossible to track each event, then the governing body will impose a recurring tax like fee on every individual to compensate. This fee, for lack of a better word, will be used to support organizations like PRS for other legal challenges that may come up.

across the pond says:

tax the air

I believe some big name British group sang about taxing the air.
Most of these fees go to the groups collecting the fee and the top artists. There is seldom anything left for the artists that really need the money.
If people would quit playing the music of the artists that make the most noise for the fee collection groups then the problem would disappear.
Some small time artist should get somebody to play just their music all day for one day, pay the the fees and see if they get a payment. If they don’t then sue the collection agency.

Tam O'Shanter says:

There is something about those Anglo-Saxons

Everone knows about those cute Irish cottages, with small windows? Right? Reason they are small windows is because in the “olden days” the Brits would tax the occupants of a cottage based on the amount of light they received from the windows: Thus, small windows. There is something about those Brits.

Somewhat related: In my state, the state claims to own the rain water and has laws against individuals collecting rain for personal storage.

BTR1701 says:

Re: There is something about those Anglo-Saxons

> he Brits would tax the occupants of a cottage based on the
> amount of light they received from the windows: Thus, small
> windows.

When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in Berkeley, California, and there was a huge eucalyptus tree in their backyard. One night during a thunderstorm, the tree was hit by lightning and brought down. Funny thing, though, without the tree, my grandparents suddenly had a beautiful view of the entire San Francisco Bay out of their kitchen windows. Within a week, the city taxing authority showed up, snooped around, then sent them a letter which significantly increased their property taxes because now they could see something other than a tree out their back windows.

Bialynia says:

Re: There is something about those Anglo-Saxons

There is something about those Anglo-Saxons
by Tam O’Shanter
Everone knows about those cute Irish cottages, with small windows? Right? Reason they are small windows is because in the “olden days” the Brits would tax the occupants of a cottage based on the amount of light they received from the windows: Thus, small windows. There is something about those Brits.

Somewhat related: In my state, the state claims to own the rain water and has laws against individuals collecting rain for personal storage.
(reply to this comment) (link to this comment)

——————-

What a load of rubbish. No tax ever existed based on the size of windows. If there’s a reason for the windows in Irish cottages being small it’ll be down to the sheer expense of the glass required to cover the windows.

We should tax stupid Americans every time they talk nonsense, but then if we did that then America would be bankrupted within a week.

TFP says:

From the UK here

The PRS has threatened hairdressers, mechanics and sole traders.

A third of our wages go to the government, and 2/3 rds of what we pay for petrol goes to the government – in fact, everything we buy, the government also gets a cut of, they’ve even started introducing toll roads even though we pay over £100 a year on road tax.

Even if you have no running water, they still demand payment for rain water running off your roof into the gutter. We pay over £100 a year on a TV tax, about £300 a year on ‘council’ tax.

With all this money pouring into their coffers (as well as being bitches to the corporations) it’s kind’a astounding that NuLabour have still managed to bring this once great country to the brink of ruin; billions spent on failed projects and insane database designs and … well, just mad stuff, anti terrorist laws that councils now use to fine dog owners for allowing their pets to foul pavements, camera everywhere that do nothing to protect anyone…

Argh……..

Louisiana says:

Bone headed

So, I work from home, and currently have building works going on (builders, tiler, painters, electrician). All like to listen to different stuff on the radio, but most are Radio 4 junkies (like me). The painters are split Radio 1/Radio4. Plus I have someone come in once a week to help out in my home office, and she likes Radio 1 (I don’t).

According to PRS, I’m breaking the law if I dont have a public performance licence? Or does that depend on how many rooms/radios are playing Radio 4 as opposed to Radio 1? Should I only be hiring painters and office assistants who are Radio 4 fans? Or – you never know – am I not liable for anything played in the kitchen or bathroom or out in the garden by the painters? Indeed, should they be paying PRS direct for their portable radio choices regardless of private client site.

This is so beyond a joke….

Nickie says:

PRS

What about from the artist’s point of view? PRS are just trying to ensure that artists are getting paid for their creativity, their hard work and their contribution that they are making in this world economy, not to mention to people’s well being, afterall isn’t that what music is about?

Everyone seems to expect to have music for free these days. Would you want to work for free????? assuming you are not already a multimillionaire or financially independent.

Another level says:

This story is laughable. I work for PRS. Google (You Tube – you know the multi billion dollar company) were refusing to pay more than 0.007p per stream.

Not all of our artists are worth a fortune, 80% earn less than £500 a year from their music and it’s fair to say you tube streams a lot of niche stuff.

As far as lciensing the horses that’s complete tosh as well, a licence is required if one or more employees will hear the music. Licensing animals…pah…jumped up reporters talking nonsense and retards not understanding their legal obligations as far as licenses goes. endex.

Oh and btw, £99? Doesn’t even exist as a tariff, check our website.

LondonLad says:

PRS Liars and Laughable Claims.

Another level’s claims are horse manure.

The negotiations between Google and the PRS broke down because Google wanted a list of the musicians they actually represent. PRS were claiming royalty payments on *ALL* music streamed to the UK regardless of origin.

90% of their members have never seen a single penny from the PRS.

As far as “lciensing the horses” goes, is Another level really so retarded that he/she/it doesn’t recognise sarcasm when it slaps them in the face with a wet fish.

Oh and btw, here’s another item from DoverWatch about these extortionists.

http://doverwatch.blogspot.com/2009/04/offer-they-couldnt-refuse.html

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