by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 10th 2007 7:14am
About a decade ago, the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) made news for idiotically threatening the Girl Scouts for singing songs around campfires without paying licensing fees. The resulting publicity forced ASCAP to back down, but gave the group a huge black eye for being copyright bullies. This story coincided with a growing interest in copyright issues, and many credit the story with generating initial interest from many into copyright policy issues. You would think that this story would have made its way across the pond to the UK and its Performing Rights Society (PRS), the UK equivalent of ASCAP. Apparently not. PRS, who was last seen around here badgering a chain of auto mechanics for having its mechanics listen to music so loudly that customers can hear (but without paying for a performance license), is apparently now demanding royalties from a charity that happens to have children singing carols at a Christmas concert. Apparently PRS first visited the charity to threaten them over a similar issue to the auto mechanics. The building has a tea room, and workers in the kitchen apparently had the radio on too loud, leading to a demand for performance royalties from the PRS. That resulted in further discussions about what other music occurs on the premises, and the PRS's demand for a license for the caroling. This all seems quite similar to the Girl Scout campfire fiasco, with the added wonders of a Scrooge-like Christmas twist. Either way, it's yet another example of a dying industry trying to greedily squeeze ever last penny out of every possible place before it dies for good.
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