PRS To Increase Members' Fees To Fund Legal Expedition Against TV Station

from the for-the-artists dept

It’s been a while since we last checked in on PRS, a collection group in the UK that generally goes around acting as a kind of collection of prosthetic assbags for the musical artists it purports to represent. Actions like demanding money from a grocery store employee who happened to sing a song at work, demanding money from a woman who played some music for her horses, and demanding payment from small businesses it calls up on the off chance it might hear some music being played far off in the background are all taken under the theory that PRS has the best interests of the musical artists at heart. The problem with this theory is two-fold. First, it appears that, for a collection society, PRS is very terrible at collecting money, seeing as it has come to light that it doesn’t have enough money for a copyright tribunal hearing over licensing with a television station. Second, in order to support that legal effort, PRS has decided to do what it always decides to do: slurp just a little bit more money away from the artists it represents.

When rights owners choose to licence as one through a collecting society, all deal making is subject to extra rules and regulations in order to satisfy competition law. If the society and a licensee cannot reach an agreement, the matter can be taken to a special court, which in the UK is called copyright tribunal. Which is what ITV is now doing having failed to agree a new deal with PRS covering broadcasts from the start of this year.

In the letter to its members, posted by the Music Law Updates website, the PRS executive board says that: “We feel it is vital that we fully participate and vigorously defend this referral to secure a fair return for the use of our members’ work. Copyright tribunals are costly but it’s important to protect and champion your work and ensure you are fairly remunerated whenever it is used.”

And, with that supposed goal in mind, PRS announces that it will increase admin fees by 1 percent on all revenue it generates from music on television. Not just artists whose music is played on ITV, but all music on television. For those of you keeping score at home, that means a collection society that bills itself as a protector of artists’ rights has unilaterally announced an increase in its fees because it actually has to do that job, and it’s collecting those increased fees from members who do not stand to directly benefit from this legal action. That, my friends, is quite an operation they have going over there at PRS.

“The Executive Board has approved a proposal for a one percent increase in our TV admin rates for a period of one year, this being the fairest way of covering the expected costs in defending this referral. While the tribunal will only rule on the ITV licence, it is an important decision for all members whose music is played on TV, meaning we are sharing the cost across all our TV revenues”.

Yes, we’re taking more money from you artists who will not be affected by this legal action over this license with this television station because it’s extremely important to you, because we said it is. And, keep in mind, we alone have your best interests at heart, which is why we’re taking more of your money.

It’s always been this way. Collection societies serve as skimming operations, gently whisking away some percentage of revenue from artists under the guise of good intentions. But what else could you expect? Given how PRS treats the general public, why would artists expect to be treated any better?

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Comments on “PRS To Increase Members' Fees To Fund Legal Expedition Against TV Station”

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28 Comments
Dickon Hood (profile) says:

They're extortionists

…and I mean that literally.

I’m a contractor, and like a lot of contractors, I contract via a limited company. Over the years, I’ve received several letters from the PRS demanding that I either purchase a licence from them, or telephone a premium-rate telephone number to explain to them why I don’t need one, on pain of them doing a spot check and potentially court action as a result. Those premium-rate numbers typically pay a percentage of the call fee to the callee, and as a result their actions are very clearly simply demanding money with menaces.

Needless to say, I haven’t bothered. I don’t deal with extortionists.

andy says:

Where to put the blame.

The government could very easily pass a law that ensures every copyright holder has to register their details to a central database so that anyone can contact the creator and pay them for use of their music, I will never do business with a collection agency and if the government had to do this the distribution of profit would be much easier to do and more fair for the content creators.

It is crazy that content creators have to pay someone to collect their fees and not pay them an insignificant amount either, the collection agencies make more off content than the creators in every instance.

I would like to register 1 000 songs i have sung and get the copyright dues to that content, damn i could very easily put all that content up on youtube then demand the collection agencies pay me for every possible play around the world, i could make millions from this if i wanted and i really cant sing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Where to put the blame.

“The government could very easily pass a law “

Why not enforce the existing laws?
Certainly there are laws addressing fraud, extortion, anti-trust, etc – you get the idea. Perhaps their equivalent to an attorney general could start actually doing their job … oh yeah, they are paid to look the other way while business does whatever they damn well please.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Where to put the blame.

“The government could very easily pass a law that ensures every copyright holder has to register their details to a central database so that anyone can contact the creator and pay them for use of their music”

This used to be the law. The government doesn’t have to make a new one, it just has to get rid of the awful one that eliminated this requirement.

Blue Sweater (profile) says:

Went looking for past stories about PRS, found a story from 2010 with 615 comments

Sorry, its off topic but I often follow the links to past stories to try to get a historical look at the company under discussion. I eventually found the story below.
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100706/10570810083.shtml

I haven’t made it through all of the comments yet but it looks like it may have been one of the most frustrating threads I’ve ever seen DH involved in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Went looking for past stories about PRS, found a story from 2010 with 615 comments

Oh boy, I remember that – a muleheaded nincompoop who kept insisting on UK law being the law and if you didn’t like it, either leave the country or break the law and expose yourself to the consequences and insignificant change.

If not for the difference in writing style (or crazy) I’d’ve pegged him as out_of_the_blue.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

God forbids

God forbid they should negotiate with ITV, in good faith, to avoid a trip to the tribunal.

God forbid they should reduce stockholder dividends to pay for a trip to the tribunal.

God forbid they should reduce the CEO’s massive salary to pay for a trip to the tribunal.

God forbid they should actually represent the artists they claim to represent.

With all that forbidding by God, all that’s left is to cut the artists’ share.

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