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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Tom Bliss Heavy Handed PRS (105* d) RE: Heavy Handed PRS 23 Nov 09

Just for the record

""I'd love to know the proper ins and outs of the PRS's legal position. What happens if, say, one were to state categorically that only public domain music was used, and that you have no intention of paying, and that you'll be seeing them in court?""

I believe their case would revolve about the fact that even public domain material may be subject to arrangement copyright, so no music can be claimed to be exempt.

Don T.

On the contrary. If you state that you are only playing public domain material, the PRS will happily leave you alone.

Also they accept that if you are playing a work in the public domain of which arrangements have been registered, you are usually making a different de facto arrangement unless you are, yourself, the arranger and claim so, or you, yourself, report that you are playing, or trying to play, someone else's arrangement. Remember that PRS do not operate under criminal law, but civil. They are working on behalf of their members so are following - and have to follow - prior case law. Essentially, if you play a traditional song or tune and say it's your own arrangement, you are in the clear - unless it's obviously very very similar to a registered arrangement and/or the copyright holder decides to take issue with you.

The registration of arrangements is only about making sure that a better percentage of the blanket licence collection goes to the folk sector, NOT about taking songs or tunes out of the public domain. Once a work is PD nothing, repeat nothing can make it private - whatever it may say on the record sleeve or in the song book.

It might require an expensive lawyer to prove it, but the chances are you'll be meeting the arranger or 'writer' in court - not the PRS.

Also - PRS do NOT set the tariffs. They are set by in independent body whose name escapes me for the moment.


Agreed about the counter-productive tactics, however, and I have written to PRS many times about this,. Sadly my meeting with the Chief Exec never happened - nor has the promised low rate/movable licence for folk clubs, about which my lips are still supposed to be sealed. I'm up to my eyes with climate change now - someone else will have to take over.

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