Irish Collection Society Wants Hotels To Pay Performance Fees For Music Played In Guest Rooms

from the oh-come-on-now dept

We’ve seen all sorts of ridiculous claims by performance rights collection societies trying to demand performance rights for things that clearly were not intended as “performances.” There was the woman stocking shelves in a store who was singing without paying. There was the owner of a horse stable who played music to her horses. There was the attempt to say that your mobile phone ringing with a ringtone was a public performance. Basically, they’re willing to claim just about any music playing is a public performance that requires yet another fee.

Niall.e points us to a legal issue in Europe, where the Irish High Court has asked the European Court of Justice to weigh in on a claim by the Irish collection society Phonographic Performance Ireland Ltd (PPI), which is claiming that music played in hotel rooms for guests requires a performance fee. Yes, you read that right. PPI is claiming that since the hotel provides radios and televisions in the guest rooms, they need to pay a performance right fee on the usage of those devices.

PPI can’t honestly believe this is a public performance that deserves a performance right. This is just a blatant money grab to try to force someone else to pay up. What’s next? Auto dealers will have to pay a performance fee for having radios installed in cars?

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Companies: ppi

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Comments on “Irish Collection Society Wants Hotels To Pay Performance Fees For Music Played In Guest Rooms”

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72 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

“To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

How collection agencies promote the progress of the useful arts in cases like the ones described, I have no idea.

Are the robot musicians here yet?

“What do you mean I have to pay a fee for music performed by humans? This is a human performance-free zone. Nothing but robot music is played here.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Then why is the Untited States pushing ACTA? If every country and their copyright laws are good enough?

Why do I feel that Ireland and the rest of the world will soon be put into a position that forces the view that copyright laws should be strengthened? Lengthened?

That is pretty quaint, though, each country dealing with IP in their own way.

For now.

greg.fenton (profile) says:

“PPI can’t honestly believe this is a public performance that deserves a performance right.

Actually, I hate to say it, but yes the just might honestly believe this. It all falls down to what the definition of the broadly termed “public performance” is, and these collection agencies are focusing it to mean “anything not private” rather than “those things that are public”.

I’m not disagreeing with the fact that this is completely ludicrous, but to keep the debate focused on the facts of the matter I would recommend avoiding a blanket statement as the above.

These people may be arses, but they may actually be being true to their arseness.

Jamie says:

Re: I disagree.

I don’t mean to quibble on semantics, but it is pretty clear that this is a strategy of pushing the courts as far as the will go. So in the sense of “belief” that means, “let’s see what happens”, you’re correct.

I think the better way to describe it is that they currently find it cheaper to file lawsuits than to accept that it is completely absurd to make the arguments that they do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I disagree.

I think the better way to describe it is that they currently find it cheaper to file lawsuits than to accept that it is completely absurd to make the arguments that they do.

I think you’ve got that backwards. Acceptance would be free, lawsuits are not. Thus, acceptance would be much cheaper.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re: I disagree.

Umm…no, acceptance would not be free, unless you believe they can do exactly nothing to change their business models and not lose money. Either they have to fight consumers in courts and via politicians, or they have to adapt. As long as it’s so easy to do the former, many will choose that over the latter.

greg.fenton (profile) says:

Re: Re: I disagree.

Possibly, but there is the possibility that the people in this group have simply organically grown into an “ownership mentality”, now truly believing that “not in the privacy of your home” is something they should be paid for.

Again, I’m not saying that this actually is the way they are. I’m just saying that making a bold statement about their intentions, when there is a clear way of seeing their intentions as being otherwise, simply will derail the whole point to the conversation.

You will not have a productive debate when you start off by stating unconfirmables about the other side of the debate.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

‘Actually, I hate to say it, but yes the just might honestly believe this. It all falls down to what the definition of the broadly termed “public performance” is, and these collection agencies are focusing it to mean “anything not private” rather than “those things that are public”. ‘

In the case of radio and TV it is clear that the responsibility for paying a fee lies with the broadcaster and not those receiving the broadcasts. Any argument to the contrary is absurd because they already collect money from the broadcasters. If a hotel were playing its own recordings then they might be liable.

If they honestly believe it, despite the law being listed on their website, then they seriously lack reading comprehension.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: - No its the ratchet

“They are just trying it on. If they lose they lose almost nothing. If they win then they establish a precedent, get an extra source of revenue and move on to the next (even more ridiculous) demand.”

I’m not so sure, on closer inspection they may have some basis under EU law. I don’t see how they can win this case but it may get Irish law changed to comply with EU law. As soon as I get time I’ll try and track down the offending statute in the EU, though I’d still be surprised if it applied to hotel rooms.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 - No its the ratchet

Ahah! the Berne convention article 11bis states:

(1) Authors of literary and artistic works shall enjoy the exclusive right of authorizing:

(i) the broadcasting of their works or the communication thereof to the public by any other means of wireless diffusion of signs, sounds or images;

(ii) any communication to the public by wire or by rebroadcasting of the broadcast of the work, when this communication is made by an organization other than the original one;

(iii) the public communication by loudspeaker or any other analogous instrument transmitting, by signs, sounds or images, the broadcast of the work.

Which would strongly suggest that they actually have a case, hotel rooms and all. I need to go and throw up.

Anonymous Coward says:

I just did my part to hammer another nail into the RIAA and every music collection society and briefcase-toting goons in three-piece suits – it’s so simple. Buy used music CDs. The music’s yours and it’s legal, but the international music conglomerates and all of these alleged musical collection societies can’t milk profits out of a used music CD. Screw the pooch, starve the beast, and see what happens within the next few years to all of these useless sons-of-bitches. We (the consumers who pay for all the crap) don’t have to kill the music industry with illegal downloads. Just buy all of your merchandise second-hand.

Avatar28 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Buy used music CDs. The music’s yours and it’s legal (for now), but the international music conglomerates and all of these alleged musical collection societies can’t milk profits out of a used music CD (yet).”

There, fixed it for you.

I don’t for a second doubt that the RIAA, MPAA, et al are pushing to have a special tax applied to all sales of used music, movies, etc. Each time the disc is sold it a few bucks goes to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Car Radios

I don’t know about that if people are *buying* the cars before turning the radio on, but it sure seems like it would apply to car rentals and leases.

Let me clarify that. It is the owner of the venue that is liable for the performance fee. In the case of someone buying a car, as long as the dealer doesn’t let them turn the radio on before purchase, then the new owner would be liable for the fee. In the case of a rental or lease car, the owner (rental or lease company) would be liable for the fee.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Car Radios

“Let me clarify that. It is the owner of the venue that is liable for the performance fee.”

The ‘venue’ in the case of broadcasting would be the studio that the broadcast is transmitted from. There is no distinction in the law between listening to the radio at home and listening to the radio in a public place. Receiving a broadcast does not constitute a liability unless the question of copyright is over the broadcast itself (such as with cable television).

Of course, that isn’t to say collection societies won’t demand fees for such ‘performances’ anyway, the PRS in the UK is notorious for charging for radio ‘performances’. They just don’t appear to have any basis in law to do so. The only case in the UK so far has been the PRS v Kwik-Fit for radio in the workplace, but Kwik-Fit apparently lost their nerve before the case was finished.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Car Radios

The ‘venue’ in the case of broadcasting would be the studio that the broadcast is transmitted from. There is no distinction in the law between listening to the radio at home and listening to the radio in a public place.

You either don’t know what you’re spouting off about or you’re just making crap up. Public places (venues) that provide radio and television entertainment have to pay fees for the privilege. This is well established in law.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Car Radios

“You either don’t know what you’re spouting off about or you’re just making crap up. Public places (venues) that provide radio and television entertainment have to pay fees for the privilege. This is well established in law.”

Venues certainly do pay fees and I just gave an example (Kwik-Fit). There is a distinction between doing so and having to. If it is well established in law then you should be able to point me to some example of that. Having read the statutes for Ireland copyright law I can find nothing that prohibits the reception of a non infringing broadcast. The key term in the statute is ‘sound recording’, for which the reception of radio is plainly an exception.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Car Radios

Having dug further, apparently I’m out of date. They amended the UK act in 2003 to close this ‘loophole’. Given that they did so at the behest of Europe I would presume that the same will occur here.

In my defence, that law is really fucked up. I’ll have to start reading all the Europe copyright law to find out where this idiotic idea came from. Usually I’m against copyright on general principle rather than legality but here I’m inclined to wonder what the legislators were smoking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Car Radios

Having read the statutes for Ireland copyright law I can find nothing that prohibits the reception of a non infringing broadcast.

Heh, nice straw man attempt there. Nobody’s saying you have to pay to *receive* such a broadcast. But if you rebroadcast it in a public place then you’re liable for the public performance fees.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Car Radios

“They just don’t appear to have any basis in law to do so. The only case in the UK so far has been the PRS v Kwik-Fit for radio in the workplace,”

I believe that the court’s opinion probably outweighs yours on this. The Scottish Court of Session rejected Kwik-Fit’s application to dismiss the copyright infringement proceedings brought against it by PRS (reference). So the court apparently thought there was a “basis in law” there, despite what you may think.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Car Radios

The court only rejected a move to dismiss – Kwik Fit caved before the case came to trial. The basis in law remains untested so vivaelamor ‘s opinion is not contrary to any court opinion. There is no court opinion.

Kwik Fit moved for dismissal on the grounds that there was no basis for a suit, the same as vivaelamor’s claim. The court disagreed and found that there was indeed a basis for a suit and thus refused to dismiss on those grounds. It was after realizing this that Kwik Fit “caved”, as you put it.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Car Radios

“I believe that the court’s opinion probably outweighs yours on this. The Scottish Court of Session rejected Kwik-Fit’s application to dismiss the copyright infringement proceedings brought against it by PRS (reference). So the court apparently thought there was a “basis in law” there, despite what you may think.”

The judges opinion actually suggests that he was sceptical as to the plaintiff’s ability to win the case:

“At this stage, certainly, such an outcome cannot be ruled out, especially in circumstances where the true scope and application of the law regarding the “playing” or “performance” of copyright works “in public” have not been explored in argument. On relevancy grounds, therefore, the pursuers are in my view entitled to the inquiry which they seek. Having reached that conclusion, however, I am not to be taken as accepting that, on proof of the averments in question, the pursuers would necessarily succeed in their claims against the defenders. In the course of the debate various hypothetical situations were figured in which charges of copyright infringement might arguably go beyond the contemplated scope of the legislation and/or offend against common sense. Whether, in the event, any such difficulties materialise in this case will depend on how the evidence turns out at the proof.”

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Car Radios

“But still did not believe that there was not “any basis in law” to bring a suit.”

I never even suggested that they didn’t have any basis in law to bring a suit. I stated that they appear to have no basis in law to charge the fees they did, which in the absence of any case law was entirely correct. A judge’s opinion on whether a case should be heard is not case law and would certainly not be a legal basis to charge fees.

You could certainly quibble with me over interpretation of the law (which seems to be a poor adaptation of the Berne convention and ripe for contention), but arguing over something I didn’t even say is silly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Car Radios

I never even suggested that they didn’t have any basis in law to bring a suit. I stated that they appear to have no basis in law to charge the fees they did, which in the absence of any case law was entirely correct.

Now let me get this straight. You’re saying that they had no basis in law to charge the fees, yet they had a basis to sue for the fees anyway. So they had a basis to sue for fees they had no basis to charge in the first place. Uh huh, you bet. That’s one of the loopiest arguments I’ve heard in quite some time.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Car Radios

“You’re saying that they had no basis in law to charge the fees, yet they had a basis to sue for the fees anyway.”

That is how the system works. Until a precedent is set there is no proof as to how the statutes will be interpreted; often the first case is called a ‘test case’. You don’t need a legal basis to charge fees and I never suggested that you do; nor do you need a legal basis to bring a suit, though you may get in trouble if you clearly intended to waste the court’s time.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"Irish Collection Society Wants Hotels To Pay Performance Fees For Music Played In Guest Rooms"

PPI and others alike are just too stupid to comment on in detail. Their small, idiot brains just don’t deserve the attention. They’re like small spoiled children screaming for a cookie they are not entitled to and didn’t earn. Screw’em. Let’em scream all they want. Nobody’s listening. And nobody cares. }:P

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Public?

If the guests have sex in the room, is it sex in public? If the guests use the bathroom in the room, is it public urination?

Then I would say it’s not a “public performance”.

The guests aren’t the ones giving the “public performance” and that’s why they aren’t being asked to pay the fee. The hotel is the one offering rooms to “the public” and including entertainment in the package. That’s why it’s being called a “public performance”.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Public?

“The hotel is the one offering rooms to “the public” and including entertainment in the package. That’s why it’s being called a “public performance”.

Blockbuster makes videos available to the public to rent, but does that make watching a movie in your basement a public performance? Record stores sell CDs to the public, but does that make listening to a purchased CD a public performance? And what about the car example? Should auto makers pay royalties because they sell cars to the public with entertainment systems in them?

It’s not a matter of who the customers are. The question of public performance should have to do with the nature of the actual performance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Public?

Blockbuster makes videos available to the public to rent, but does that make watching a movie in your basement a public performance?

If blockbuster were showing the rented movies on their premises then, yes, it would be a public performance subject to fees.

Record stores sell CDs to the public, but does that make listening to a purchased CD a public performance?

I once knew someone who ran a record store and they had to pay a fee in order to play music over the speakers in the store. So there’s your answer. And yes, other stores that play background music have to pay fees too. That includes automobile dealers.

It’s not a matter of who the customers are. The question of public performance should have to do with the nature of the actual performance.

It’s a question of the location of the performance and whether that place is open to the public.

Alex Bowles (profile) says:

How is this not double dipping? I mean, if it’s a commercial performance (i.e. one made by a broadcaster and paid for using ad revenue) then doesn’t that broadcaster have the right to reach as many people in a given territory that want to tune in?

If I’m hearing an ad, I’ve already paid for the performance with my attention – attention that has already been converted into cash by the media company that (a) counted me as part of its audience and (b) licensed the music they played accordingly.

The record companies are, in essence, subcontractors who are now stepping way out of line. Dealing with them is like dealing with a tire company attempting to bill you directly for the tires that already came on the new car you already bought.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How is this not double dipping? I mean, if it’s a commercial performance (i.e. one made by a broadcaster and paid for using ad revenue) then doesn’t that broadcaster have the right to reach as many people in a given territory that want to tune in?

That’s just the way it is. For example, restaurants and bars have long had to pay licensing fees in order to play music and television.

NAMELESS.ONE says:

we also need ot start charing royalties on the following

we need a way to control the hammer market
this means that every user of hammers must PAY per use.
THATS right we want you to pay everytime you need a hammer. NOT going to pay well were gonna think of the children and put cameras all around you , create the world wide hammer organization to police you and make even more insane hammer laws

thats right you scamming home builders were on to you now. ITS time to make the WWH
and WWE people are going to be hired to get you to pay
Don’t worry a donation of every bit of your money will be paid also to the WWF

StarNoStar says:

Whats next?

Whats next….Me having to pay a licencing fee to play video games that I allready bought? Maybe they will charge a dollar to my account every time my phone rings? Maybe Ill have to pay 20 bucks to check a book out from the library.

All of this comes from people who are allready well of (making enough money to support themselves). I have a college degree and Im in poverty and cant find a job, and these mother ****** millionares want to make more money off me.

Companies like these make me sick. I wont be buying any more electronics (computers, televisions, etc…). **** the digital revolution.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

This is actually great ...

If anyone wants to make a ton of money and piss off the collection agencies. I have a solution to this problem. I have 6 tBytes of free and Creative Commons music I have collected. Go to the restaraunts, hotels, garages, etc and sell them a 20 dollar a month service of nothing but CC music. End of collection agencies, end of record labels, beginning of a new sane era in music.

WammerJammer (profile) says:

Performance fees

These are the guys that are ruining the Music business and all the blame is on the government’s that issue the Copyrights. Because they out-source the policing of a government function. They pass vague laws so that business’s that do the enforcing simply screw the public and make up fees as they go along.
As a composer and an Artist I’ve had enough. None of these fees ever get paid to the Artist’s. As the part-owner of an Online Radio Station I can testify that in 5 years of being a legal Radio Station and paying our fees on time to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, we have never been asked to send a list of songs played on the station. When we asked about this the answer was that all songs on the Radio is covered by one of the above agencies. That’s a lie. My music gets played on the Radio Station and I don’t get paid because ASCAP, BMI and SESAC don’t recognize anyone but the big 5 as being registered. Go to one of their web-sites and try to sign up as an indie. Hah!!! What a joke. The entire system is corrupt and will die a flaming death after enough people get sick of it.
I want the government that I paid a Copyright fee to to actually protect me. The way it works now is a shell game. The government takes the money and then leaves you hanging. The backlog in the Copyright Office in the United States is a joke. It takes months to actually get a piece of paper proving your copyright, thus leaving us with the only option which is the poor man’s copyright. When I called the Copyright Office after waiting 6 months I was told to use the poor man’s copyright by the guy on the phone and was told it was legal.
My point is: Why do I need the Copyright Office when all I need to do is burn a write-once, read-many CD or DVD. It burns the file date on the CD/DVD and I can find no way to change that date once it is burned into the CD/DVD. So using the poor man’s copyright by burning a CD/DVD of your work, sealing it into an envelope and then mailing it to yourself to get the postmark. This is an almost immediate copyright and allows easily for revisions.
Why would I wait 6 to 9 months to pay an agency who doesn’t even protect me?

NAMELESS.ONE says:

enter the above lawyers

yup after all is said and done a private house or establishment for a fee is supposed ot give you a private room to do as one wishes within laws and reason

PRIVATE
as in none of your fraking business
this is the hollywood mentality that nothing is sacred
that you shuld be wearign a camera up your ass and around ozzy osbourne style

99% of real people would and do find that massively offensive and not only offensive but annoying , degrading and dare i say it CRIMINAL.

and did that store BUY the cds or dvds …YES
Another thought
SO
landlord rents a room to me.
if i am playing tunes YOUR saying its now a preformance
if he gives me free cable its now also a preformance
and he should pay even more
that cable has audio channels and sound…..

no and when the revolution comes the lawyers WILL be the first to go

Baylink (user link) says:

Of course it's double dipping, Alex

But it happens right now: if you run, say, a Bed, Bath and Beyond store, and you play radio broadcasts, you’re liable to ASCAP and BMI for a licence — usually an annual blanket — even though the radio station already paid one (unless you fall into certain statutory exceptions dealing with floor size and, sometimes, type of reproduction gear).

Anonymous Coward says:

@AC #54

TAM gets paid every time his mom ‘performs’, so I think TAM should be the one paying the performance tax.

I don’t think TAM or their mom have commented in this thread unless you know something I don’t know. Perhaps you think Tam’s comments are similar and you’ve blocked us both. Wow, that’s so sad.

So, who is this Anonymous Coward that keeps trying to pull a TAM on someone? I expect better from you.

Hey Mike, look into this, or else I will have to register MikeAfterDark.com or MikeDirt.com and set up a site where we can talk about this kind of stuff.

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