PRS Copyright 'Investigators' Actually Sales People
from the no-wonder-they-go-after-horses dept
PRS, the UK’s music licensing agency, recently reached out to us after a series of posts we wrote which (to say the least) portrayed their organization negatively. We had a cheerful email exchange that basically left off with us disagreeing on just about everything — but especially over PRS’s tactics, such as demanding a woman running a stable pay for a license because she played music to her horses, just because a few other employees (who didn’t listen to the music) occasionally stopped in. Then there’s the demands against auto mechanics and police stations because employees were listening to music (in private areas) loud enough that it could be heard in other rooms where the public might visit. Oh, and then there was the demand that a children’s charity pay up for singing Christmas carols. And, then there’s my personal favorite: calling up small businesses, and if music is heard in the background, demanding the purchase of a license.
If you want to understand the sort of incentives that create such ridiculous and self-defeating PR nightmares, take a look at a recent job posted by PRS (thanks to Kaden for alerting us to this). Officially, the organization is looking for a “copyright investigator,” but the actual job is in “sales.” These “investigators” have “revenue targets” and can earn a bonus for bringing in excess revenue beyond their targets. That’s not creating a situation where these investigators are told to go find violators. It creates a scenario where they’re encouraged to find anyway humanly possible to squeeze pretty much anyone for cash.
The PR guy from PRS who contacted us tried to make the case that PRS is just a little non-profit looking out for the best interests of musicians, but when it’s setting up its sales people with incentives to come up with any bogus reason to pressure everyone into purchasing a license to listen to music they already legally purchased, something is clearly wrong. This is a group that’s effectively been handed a monopoly in the UK and appears to be abusing its power, not as a little harmless non-profit, but as an organization that handles an awful lot of money and has empowered its sales people to threaten small businesses if they don’t pay up.