Hardware Store That Doesn't Play Any Music Has To Fight Off Collection Society Demanding A License Fee

from the that's-called-extortion dept

We’ve written plenty of stories about different businesses being shaken down by various music collections societies, and the one we often hear the craziest stories about is PPL in the UK. Recently, it demanded a hardware store pay for a license. Of course, there was just one problem: the store’s owner doesn’t play any music in the store, saying that after the store is closed up for the night, he’ll turn on the radio to hear the news while he cleans up, but that he doesn’t think music is appropriate for the store. Still PPL demanded £199. After he refused to pay, PPL apparently claimed that he owed them money and passed it on to a debt collection agency, who started hounding the poor guy.

The owner, David Sleath, was finally forced to hire lawyers to try to stop the madness — and PPL’s response was to lower their demand to “just” £100, for music he did not play. Eventually, after Sleath was able to get press coverage, PPL “called him up with a grovelling apology and a promise to withdraw all invoices.” Still, he’s been stuck with legal fees, and is now trying to get PPL to pay them. It seems more and more like this is just a government sanctioned form of extortion, doesn’t it?

Filed Under: ,
Companies: ppl

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Hardware Store That Doesn't Play Any Music Has To Fight Off Collection Society Demanding A License Fee”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
62 Comments
Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Same situation here in Ireland. I’ve got two screens, a standard computer monitor and a 40 inch HD TV, both connected to my computer, yet according to the law, I still have to pay a TV licence, to help pay for RTE. Which I don’t watch at all, seeing as how I don’t have so much as a free-to-air aerial connected to the TV.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

huh. in NZ the government funded programing is payed for out of regular taxes, and the government ‘owned’ channels (maybe 1/3rd or so of the free-to-air ones?) pretty much use advertising to pay for themselves the same as the others. only difference is that they’re contractually obligated to run election stuff and the like and the government is the one collecting the profits. (end result: we actually get reasonably balanced media covarge most of hte time… not so much when national’s in power, sadly, as then you get the ‘don’t upset those controling our funding too much’ affecting one major news channel and blatant pro-rich-people-getting-more-money-is-the-only-thing-that-matters-so-therefore-everyone-but-national-sucks propaganda on the other…)

Charles K. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s not the connection to an aerial, it’s the circuits that act as the receiver that causes you to pay. That’s why the monitor is exempt but the TV isn’t.

It’s all a pile of shite, but just wait till they classify your PC as a “receiving device”, that’s when things will get really interesting.

Heh heh, all this brings me back to the time in college when we beat the TV licence inspector by simply cutting the plug off the TV. We couldn’t prove it worked so he couldn’t make us pay. Ah, memories.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m in the UK and I do support the licence fee – it produces advert free – free television (and radio and web) which is much less aligned to government than it would be if paid for by general taxes. Also I reckon pretty much everyone benefits from the BBC so the relatively modest fee is good value.

On top of that the BBC has been exemplary in making its back catalogue available freely (and DRM free). It has only been hampered in this by the fact that most of its TV output contains material that others still own copyright on.

Where this is not the case (eg non-music radio and some classical music recorded by BBC orchestras) pretty much everything is available DRM free forever.

It has gone far enough in this to get the record labels to complain so I reckon they do as good a job as is practically possible.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It has gone far enough in this to get the record labels to complain so I reckon they do as good a job as is practically possible.

From the link you provided:
Ralph Couzens, managing director of the Chandos label said: “We have to pay premium prices to record big orchestras and pay full union rates and we have to pass those costs on to the consumer. If the BBC is going to offer recordings for free, that is going to be a major problem.”

Sounds like the orchestral recording business is going to have to stop being such freetards about others making their own orchestral recordings of music that is in the public domain and offering it for free, and get a new business model (their current one is: suckling at the teats of the people forever) because the tide is going out.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I actually couldn’t get all the way through the first paragraph”

That’s a shame, because then you’d have gotten to the part where the collections agency were finally forced to admit that the guy had never done anything to require a licence, yet he was still lumbered with legal fees for the false shakedown.

But, that’s typical for you. Don’t let facts get in the way so you can just call names and accuse people of “piracy”. I can imagine you in prohibition-era Chicago, defending Al Capone and attacking Eliott Ness as “pro-alcohol”, since he dared to try to point out Capone’s criminal actions…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“God, you look so desperate, Mike. Don’t you have anything interesting to say?”

It was interesting enough to others, who don’t have a hang up in regards to insulting Mike. You know what’s funny though? You saying “don’t you have anything interesting to say”, because the irony is lost on you. You yourself DO NOT have anything interesting to say.

Watch, I’m going to pretend to be you for a moment.

“OMG! A lame story! That tries to make copyright/studios/labels look bad! Let me post it real fast! Teehee!

Man, Pirate Mike, anything to draw people in. Quite pathetic. Boring FUD like usual.”

Dismissal of article? Check. Personal attack? Check. Mentioned Mike? Check.

Wow. I could be one of the “troll-type” ACs. No effort or experience (or intelligence) required.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

My point is that Pirate Mike always focuses on the negatives of copyright law. There’s no balance on Techdirt. It’s all copyright FUD. There’s no acknowledgement of the good that comes with copyright law. Pirate Mike’s main goal in life is talk shit about copyright law. Post after post after post talking about the bad. It’s so obvious that Pirate Mike hates copyright law and isn’t anti-piracy. It’s HILARIOUS that he keeps denying it. Post after post after post just keeps proving what a lie that is.

And now that I’ve even intimated that some sort of positive actually exists with copyright law, watch the piranha pounce. This place is awesome fun. I feel like I’m at the zoo watching monkeys mate with penguins.

Uncle Pennybags says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

My point is that Pirate Mike always focuses on the negatives of monopolies. There’s no balance on Techdirt. It’s all monopoly FUD. There’s no acknowledgement (sic) of the good that comes with monopolistic law. Pirate Mike’s main goal in life is talk shit about monopolistic law. Post after post after post talking about the bad. It’s so obvious that Pirate Mike hates monopolistic law and isn’t anti-competition. It’s HILARIOUS that he keeps denying it. Post after post after post just keeps proving what a lie that is.

And now that I’ve even intimated that some sort of positive actually exists with monopolistic law, watch the piranha pounce. This place is awesome fun. I feel like I’m at the zoo watching monkeys mate with penguins.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“And now that I’ve even intimated that some sort of positive actually exists with monopolistic law, watch the piranha pounce.”

So go on, explain to us the positive of agencies being able to extort money from people for activities they do not do, for using products they do not use. Explain the upside of legalised extortion on behalf of people who are not entitled to the money in any way.

I’ll wait. Bear in mind that this is far from the only example of this happening so the “isolated incident” or “rare occurrence” defences won’t work.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And for each time these out of hand tactics get coverage, how many times do people just pay up to make it stop? You have a rights group running unchecked, because it is assumed they are doing it all for the artists. Much like the DCMA there is no downside for them making bogus claims and forcing innocent people to fight them. They have no proof of their claims, but they are empowered to just demand and are assumed to be correct.

What needs to happen is there needs to be a mechanism outside of the society where those people targeted can tick off a form on why it is bogus. The outside people look at the evidence, and then make a ruling. For each bogus demand by the society they need to be fined $50,000.00. That is a number that should hurt and should make them actually review the situations before launching baseless accusations.
Half should go to the target and half should go to the checker. Now we have someone with their own interest in being paid making sure all t’s are crossed and all i’s are dotted.
If your found to be owing, then you get a $200 fine on top of what you owe for wasting time.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So its wrong for me to suggest we just flip what they are doing already?

As it stands now there is not a damn thing done to the societies when they get all excited and demand payments they are not actually owed. They get to make the claim, sell it off to debt collectors, and leave the target paying bills and fighting off creditors over a nonexistent debt. The odds are heavily in the favor of them doing this on a regular basis.

It would never come to be, giving the common folk the same broad powers they hand to corporate cronies, but its fun to dream. There should be harsh penalties built into the law for people making false claims. The target in this case has been hounded and hounded and has a pile of legal bills because the society lied. And he is meant to spend more money in a vain attempt to win back what he is out already?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So its wrong for me to suggest we just flip what they are doing already?

Yes. You don’t correct an injustice by turning the same injustice on the opposite party.

There should be harsh penalties built into the law for people making false claims.

Agreed, but those penalty payments should not go to the people deciding who has broken the rules. That would be a bit like allowing police officers to keep half of the payments from traffic tickets they write. Where would their incentive lie?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

To-mato, Ta-mato…
is it really injustice, or just re-balancing the scales 🙂
And yes I see all of the possible abuse there, but the lawmakers can’t see it when they grant it to the corporations.

As to keeping payments from traffic tickets… have you missed the red light camera/photo speed trap stories on here?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I think the entire thing is silly, but if these are the laws they insist we have there needs to be punishment for abusing it. There needs to be a system for people to appeal that doesn’t require them having to spend all kinds of moneys to fight the jackals off.

Copyright Trolls, Patent Trolls, Society Trolls…
all of them threaten you with large sums and big legal bills and it is often just easier to settle. Not because you are guilty, but because a long protracted battle will bankrupt you.

Maybe revise my original idea and have a $50k fine awarded on top of all the legal fees to someone targeted wrongly. If you know your right, and the lawyer knows he is getting paid you will be able to find a vigorous defense.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...