When A Fourth Of Small Businesses In England Complain About Collection Societies, It's No Coincidence

from the gimmie-gimmie-gimmie dept

Copyright collection organizations, among the most prolifically corrupt and hilariously dirty organizations as far as some of us are concerned, are reportedly now building themselves quite a reputation among business groups as well. In England, we’re finally starting to see some formalized push-back against the collectors from the small business community. From research done by the Federation of Small Businesses, we learn that a quarter of businesses have reported a complete lack of clarity, transparency, and understanding when it comes to how all this insane music licensing is actually supposed to work.

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) shows that 24% of small businesses have complained to the regulator regarding a lack of clarity when it comes to obtaining music, media and design – which are often used for promotional purposes – with issues surrounding licence payments and potential copyright infringement being prominent. The industry body says that copyright collecting societies, which protect the intellectual properties of said industries, lack clarity when it comes to rules and regulations.

Think about what that means for a moment. For a quarter of small businesses, those that can least afford to be dinged by not properly complying with copyright laws, don’t have a full understanding of how to stay compliant. Beyond that, even those working with the collection societies, ostensibly in the business of protecting artists and ensuring compliance, aren’t made to understand how this all works. How can that be?

Well, the answer is, of course, that collection groups aren’t really in the business of compliance or protecting artists. They’re in the business of collecting money and making a fee for those collections. It is simply not in their interests for there to be a wide understanding of how music is licensed, should be licensed, and should not be licensed. Far better for these agencies that they simply be able to stroll into a small business, declare them to be infringing, and collect their cut of the fees.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said: “An unexpected demand for licence payments to allow you to play music in your business can be a very unpleasant shock to some small businesses, and the industry should be sensitive in how they approach the issue.

“For trust to be built, they need to make sure they are very clear on why a licence is needed and completely transparent on how charges are calculated.”

That’d be nice, but it’s certainly not how this works in the real world. There’s no patient description of why certain licenses are needed in certain situations. And, oh, by the way, why is clarity and transparency amongst this convoluted mess of a copyright system a better solution than simply cleaning up the mess and streamlining the whole thing?

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Comments on “When A Fourth Of Small Businesses In England Complain About Collection Societies, It's No Coincidence”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Dirty leeching bassas…
The music business? the sooner the better it implodes the better..
How many times do people have to pay?
You listen to Spotify (or one of their ilk)—they get paid
You listen to the radio—-they get paid
You listen to the muzac in say a shop—– they get paid.
You buy(or if digital, licence it) the music—-they get paid.
Where does it end?

PaulT (profile) says:


Fairly typical tactic from what I’ve seen. They make a claim, assuming that most people play major label music anyway. Occasionally, they’ll hit a target that can prove that they didn’t, or can prove that they only play music not covered by the agency. But, most of the time, they get paid for their lies regardless.

This is fraud, of course, but they get to claim “fighting piracy” as an excuse, so they get away with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

the best approach is the one coming from or that needs to come from the government! instead of falling over themselves to do whatever the entertainment industries want done, the politicians involved should start to think about the harm that is being done by this continual assistance! it amazes me that these politicians think they are aiding to fill the various government coffers by performing like this. all that is really happening is that more money is siphoned off by the collection agencies, into their own pockets and a pittance going to the artists and/or studios. nothing then goes to the government at all because of the ‘accounting’ methods used! talk about stupid!!

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

$$ Ecosystem

Don’t forget it’s not just music, there’s also a parallel world of dark shadows involving printed works. I’d love to hear from someone who’s a better researcher than I am about IFFRO, and particularly the Copyright Clearance Center in the U.S., as I haven’t been able myself to track down just how much money flows through them to the likes of the Authors Guild and Graphic Artists Guild, and other so-called “artists rights” groups, who’s business frequently involves poisoning the well of copyright law. As bad as it would be if the money was going to publishing execs buying yachts, it’s the question of just how much becomes political dark money that really bothers me.

I recall reading somewhere that the CCC redistributes hundreds of millions, but damned if I’ve ever heard of anyone being able to track what the real amounts are, or who gets it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: $$ Ecosystem

I recall reading somewhere that the CCC redistributes hundreds of millions

That goes to the labels, who are the copyright holders tat the collection societies work with. The labels should pass royalties on to the musicians, at their usual measly rate, after deductions of advances of course. Net result, the musicians see very little if any of the money, and have to pay the collection agencies via venue fees when they perform live.

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

Re: Re: $$ Ecosystem

The devil’s in the details. There are “title specific” reprographic royalties that are supposed to go to copyright owners who’s works were recorded as having been used. Then there are “non-title specific” royalties, which are some portion of the licensing fees paid by licensees, but not attributed to the use or copying of any particular work. These funds are then distributed to entities in the “arts community” where the theory is that they are at least helping creators in a general way. Over the years the piddly little Graphic Artists Guild has received a considerable percentage of its revenue via the Authors Coalition, part of the CCC’s stream of non-title specific reprographic royalties. GAG, being on paper a labor union, files LM-2 financial reports with the Department of Labor / OLMS (file # 513-583) and its reprographic royalty income is revealed in those publicly available reports. If they’re getting tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, ($276,123 in 2013 alone) then how much non-title specific money winds up in the pockets of all these other so-called advocacy or “artists rights” groups? I’d love to know.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

I heard that licensing companies in the US were wanting to be paid for truck drivers listening to the radio while they drive because it was a workplace. Anybody know how that turned out?
When I was a kid the record companies realized that airplay=sales and they paid the DJs to play their songs in what was called the payola scandal. While that in itself wasn’t ethical, when did these greedy bastards forget that exposure means more money for them in increased album and concert ticket sales. Now they are going to make pre-1972 music so difficult to license that many will just stop playing it. That will really help them find new fans for artists that haven’t been on the charts for over 40 years.

tqk (profile) says:

I'm hearing the theme song from The Godfather going through my head.

Remember the early scenes from the movie when the young don was watching his poor neighbors being fleeced by that protection racket thug? Perhaps the MafiAA should be introduced to the real Mafia. They’d show ’em real infringing on their turf!

Didn’t one of these outfits shake down a woman who was playing music in her barn for her horses? Isn’t that a bit like expecting cotton plantation slaves to pay taxes?

It never ceases to amaze me that all of this atrocious behavior actually managed to get implemented, and it manages to continue to happen with so many tales of travesties showing up in the news. Who’s protecting these bums?

Don Vito Corleone was a saint in comparison. The real Mafia only snuffed the competition when they tried to muscle in on their turf. These collection societies have politicians handing them entire countries as their designated turf, with all the citizens and businesses within considered their plantation slaves. That’s a pretty sweet racket!

That One Guy (profile) says:

You say 'Bug', they say 'Feature'

For a quarter of small businesses, those that can least afford to be dinged by not properly complying with copyright laws, don’t have a full understanding of how to stay compliant.

If a company doesn’t know when they need to pay, they also don’t know when they don’t need to pay, which means if they want to avoid being sued into oblivion when a ‘collection’ agency comes knocking, they’ll be better off paying out even if they don’t have to. And what do you suppose happens to money gathered for bands that don’t exist? Who do you suppose gets that money?

Andrew Norton (profile) says:

It’s not hte first time there’s been these kind of results. if you remember, I pointed this out to the UK Intellectual Property office during their consultation on this topic. They redacted all this on the grounds of libel law, despite it being reported (and linked) fact.

Anonymous Coward says:


It’s about time something started to happen. In my place of work we listen to BBC radio. There’re 15 of us, we each pay our TV license (which pays for the BBC, who pay the respective labels for the music they play), the business also pays for a TV license and we’re forced to pay both the PRS and PPL license because listening to BBC radio in out private office is a “public performance” despite the fact we’re not open to the public.

By my reckoning we’re each paying for the same thing 4 times over. It’s legalised racketeering and it needs to stop.

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