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.

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Companies: prs

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Comments on “PRS Copyright 'Investigators' Actually Sales People”

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Tgeigs says:

Re: Re:

Wonderful sentiments, except that it’s been fairly established that the giant media conglomerates tend to float legislation/practices/etc. in the UK before bringing them to the States.

In doing some reading on those same conglomerates (and just what in total they own/control), I’m starting to believe that these types of things are less about money and more about setting precedents and squeezing drops of control from private enterprises and the public. Jim Marrs’ “Rise of the Fourth Reich” has a few chapters on media/music/movie conglomerates that is fairly enlightening when it comes to copywright and anti-trust/monopoly law.

SteveD says:

On the one hand I don’t have anything against the PRS; they enforce the rules not make them. If the system is demanding money from the wrong people then you need to talk to the people who designed it.

And if you need to employ people with the skills of salesmen then you need to offer them the same sort of job incentives to work in the private sector as they do in the public, otherwise you don’t attract the ones with talent.

The problem is largely with the way the system is managed. If the incentives in place are merely to rake in as much money as possible then clearly the employee’s will stretch the rules as far as they can.

Mechwarrior says:

Re: Re:

The people who designed the system are the same ones profiting from it. Pray tell, how do you convince some one to stop making money from the very system they orchestrated?

More importantly, where does the skill sets of sales people and infringement investigators coincide? I gather that there are no similarities between the two.

This is basically the class case of state sanctioned monopolies being provided with state sponsored policing powers. Although PRS doesn’t have any enforcement, and in fact can do nothing at all if someone doesn’t wish to pay. But all it takes is a law passed by some lackeys to do that. Then the people who make the laws will end up being the ones who earn money from them, just like lawyers in the United States.

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