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Heavy Handed PRS

Alan Day 21 Nov 09 - 12:51 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 09 - 01:29 PM
Andy Jackson 21 Nov 09 - 02:04 PM
beeliner 21 Nov 09 - 04:22 PM
SharonA 21 Nov 09 - 04:50 PM
Wolfhound person 21 Nov 09 - 05:07 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 09 - 05:46 PM
beeliner 21 Nov 09 - 06:12 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Nov 09 - 06:27 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 09 - 06:54 PM
Bernard 21 Nov 09 - 07:00 PM
beeliner 21 Nov 09 - 07:08 PM
Bernard 21 Nov 09 - 07:25 PM
beeliner 21 Nov 09 - 07:46 PM
Joe Offer 21 Nov 09 - 08:36 PM
beeliner 21 Nov 09 - 09:18 PM
Mr Happy 22 Nov 09 - 05:16 AM
Alan Day 22 Nov 09 - 05:41 AM
GUEST 22 Nov 09 - 05:54 AM
beeliner 22 Nov 09 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,stallion sans cookie 22 Nov 09 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,stallion 22 Nov 09 - 08:19 AM
Mr Happy 22 Nov 09 - 08:33 AM
Leadfingers 22 Nov 09 - 08:39 AM
GUEST 22 Nov 09 - 08:42 AM
Murray MacLeod 22 Nov 09 - 09:24 AM
beeliner 22 Nov 09 - 09:46 AM
Bernard 22 Nov 09 - 12:38 PM
beeliner 22 Nov 09 - 12:56 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 22 Nov 09 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,stallion 22 Nov 09 - 02:09 PM
Alan Day 22 Nov 09 - 03:04 PM
beeliner 22 Nov 09 - 03:44 PM
VirginiaTam 22 Nov 09 - 04:29 PM
Simon G 22 Nov 09 - 04:32 PM
Alan Day 22 Nov 09 - 05:24 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 22 Nov 09 - 05:58 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 22 Nov 09 - 06:01 PM
Kev Boyd 22 Nov 09 - 06:24 PM
Howard Jones 22 Nov 09 - 06:27 PM
beeliner 22 Nov 09 - 07:48 PM
VirginiaTam 23 Nov 09 - 02:52 AM
GUEST 23 Nov 09 - 03:22 AM
Howard Jones 23 Nov 09 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 23 Nov 09 - 04:54 AM
SPB-Cooperator 23 Nov 09 - 05:04 AM
Howard Jones 23 Nov 09 - 05:42 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Nov 09 - 05:56 AM
Sailor Ron 23 Nov 09 - 06:02 AM
s&r 23 Nov 09 - 06:09 AM
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Subject: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 12:51 PM

A friend of mine runs a dance school for children and has done so for at least forty years.She received a phone call (not a letter) from a person representing this organisation who told her that from
November 1st her school was liable to pay fees to the society for music played for these young children to dance to. A record player and a piano player. When it was understood that the business had been running
for some years he implied that the payment could go back five years.
This is heavy handed to say the least, the costs to her school could amount to £2-300 per annum. This organisation should be promoting children to be interested in Music and Dance.
I would appreciate your views on this subject. I am appalled that they have to sink so low to get their money.
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 01:29 PM

Typical of the bullying tactics of the PRS

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 02:04 PM

Quango mentality I'm afraid!
They don't understand "...This organisation should be promoting children to be interested in Music and Dance."

For an organistaion that in theory is supporting singer songwriters they seem to cause nothing but hassle in the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 04:22 PM

Since she is using licensed music and performances of same for a commercial purpose, namely operating her business, she should pay a royalty and the amount should be reasonable.

200-300 pounds annually is about one pound per business day, more or less.

That doesn't seem excessive to me. How much does each student pay per hour of instruction?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: SharonA
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 04:50 PM

Alan: Beware of phone calls demanding money! Your friend could be the victim of a scammer who has no connection to the PRS but who is just trying to bilk money from people by frightening them. I recommend contacting the police and consulting with them about this phone call, just in case it's bogus.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 05:07 PM

Northumberland County Council libraries were obliged to fill in PRS forms for a recent series of nursery rhyme workshops - intended audience 2-4 year olds.
Whether or not the titles used were "anon."

As a result any suggestion of musical activity in libraries causes staff to go into meltdown....

Helpful lot, the PRS. Not.

Paws


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 05:46 PM

C'mon beeliner. You don't know what the music was. Now what about Kwik Fit mechanics entertaining their exhaust customers with Radio 1.ncellation of the licences during thr duration of the festival

Or what about the festival operating in licensed premises who were told to arrange the cancellation of the licence for the duration of the festival, presumably to charge a higher rate

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 06:12 PM

Well, I am in the US, here there are are two main organizations, ASCAP and BMI, they exist in order to serve their members, the composers and publishers, in collecting royalties. They are both fine organizations.

If the muffler - excuse me - silencer shop pipes in commercial-free music they pay a fee to the supplier who in turn pays the licensing fees.

I have never heard of ASCAP or BMI accused of gouging, their rates are quite reasonable.

If you dance to the jig you pay the piper.

If the lady doesn't want to pay she can use public domain music or write her own.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 06:27 PM

The point, beeliner, is that PRS won't accept that any gig consists of public domain music.

They require payment whether there is copyrighted material or not.

Secondly, unless your name is Paul Simon, or Stevie Wonder, or similar, you have sod all chance of ever getting a payout for your own songs, but if you sing NOTHING BUT your own songs they will still hound YOU for payment.

Don T


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 06:54 PM

The payment is in case the mechanic turns on his own portable radio while he works

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Bernard
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 07:00 PM

This tactic is typical of the PRS these days - they go for the easy targets. There are plenty of places flouting the law, but it isn't obvious from their Yellow Pages entry.

I work as a sound engineer, and we have to pay PRS because we use a music source to test equipment in our warehouse...! This has nothing to do with public performances, or even whether there are people actually listening. As we are listed in the Yellow Pages, we had a call a couple of years ago from the PRS - and now the MCPS have jumped on the bandwagon.

We cannot escape, because we need to know a CD player (for example) works before it can go out on hire...

A bit like we have to pay a TV licence because we have TV receivers on our premises... even though we don't use them for watching TV - and neither do our clients. It's just that a VHS player has an analogue TV receiver in it... aah! After December 2nd they won't have a case, will they?! Methinks they haven't realised that, yet...!


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 07:08 PM

I defer to your knowledge of the situation in th UK.

Our licensing bodies don't work that way. Their aim is to get their members' material used - fee gouging would defeat that aim.

But my question remains unanswered: How much does the school charge each student per hour of instruction?

It doesn't seem to me that one pound per business day would be an oppressive fee. Last time I was in London that was about the price of a Cadbury bar.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Bernard
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 07:25 PM

It's not the amount, it's the fact that it's the thin end of the wedge. A few small amounts can kill off a small business!


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 07:46 PM

Well, OK, Bernard, I'm sure electricity is a considerable expense for a small business too.

Why not just shunt around the meter, or tap into the supply of the building next door?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 08:36 PM

What's PRS?

Please consider this a rememder to use thread titles that are universally understandable. Usually, words work better than acronyms.

Thank you.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 09:18 PM

Originally 'Performing Right Society', but now known simply as 'PRS for Music'.

From Wikipedia:

PRS For Music has reciprocal agreements with similar organisations in other countries and is able to grant licences to "perform" around 10 million pieces of music.[citation needed]

PRS For Music attempts to distribute the licence fees collected from music users to its members in a way that matches the actual distribution of performances made. Users such as large venues (for example Wembley Arena, the Royal Albert Hall, large provincial theatres) and broadcasters (for example BBC Radio 1) submit "returns" or playlists. PRS for Music samples smaller venues that host live performances or use piped music, and extrapolates the sample to determine the distribution of all licence fees from similar venues.

PRS For Music is a non-profit-making organisation. After operating costs are deducted (which in the past have averaged about 12% of turnover) the remaining money is distributed to the copyright holders (in the case of PRS, these are the songwriters or the publishers with whom they have agreements). The owners of the copyright in the recording itself are served by an unrelated organisation (the PPL). So if a cover version of a song is played on BBC Radio 1, the PRS collects a fee on behalf of the writer and publisher while the PPL collects a fee on behalf of the record company whose recording is played.

The PRS exacts a range of tariffs from organisations (businesses, government organisations, educational establishments, and so on) dependent on their size and the extent to which they are using music, and whether they are commercial premises or not.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Mr Happy
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:16 AM

'After December 2nd they won't have a case, will they?! '

How so?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:41 AM

Surely the performers are not so tight as to want payment of Performing Rights charges to little children learning to dance from their music.
So every school that has a teacher playing the piano and using CDs for teaching should also be charged ?
What is the World coming to?
I have received PRS cheques in the past (Don't get excited Taxman ) they amounted to about £3.50 a Year they can have my donation back and a little note as to where to put it.
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:54 AM

This old chestnut is running again, why shouldn't electricians get royalties every time someone switches on or uses something you have installed? So when a track from one of our cd's was used for a theme tune for a radio programme why didn't we qualify for any money.............anyway..............my beef is that many of the small dancing classes are really living on the margins with as much profit in it as folk singing and by and large are performing a public service, my daughters and now grand daughter go to the same dancing class in the same church hall with the same teacher who does it for the love of it and scratches a living, they don't own a car, live in social housing and the majority of the recipients of the PRS money live in F***ing mansions and own fancy cars, and if this can be defended by the odd person being thrown the scraps from the table then shame on you all. Music should be a joy and should reach as wider audience as possible if there are mega profits in it then sure tax them and re-distribute the wealth not screw the little people to give the rich more money. To the carping wannabees that think by defending the PRS gestapo it might somehow benefit them, dream on. This is really annoying me, I get the impression that the PRS would like to see just the plastic Simon Cowell creations and the rest taxed for listening to the crap.................I have to stop my blood pressure is off the scale............


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:27 AM

Alan: "I have received PRS cheques in the past (Don't get excited Taxman ) they amounted to about £3.50 a Year they can have my donation back and a little note as to where to put it."

GUEST: "...the majority of the recipients of the PRS money live in F***ing mansions and own fancy cars..."

Al, meet GUEST.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,stallion sans cookie
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:16 AM

that post from guest was me


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,stallion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:19 AM

it should have said the majority of the money, £3.50, I rest my case


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Mr Happy
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:33 AM

.........so what's the significance of 2nd December?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:39 AM

Most of the money cllected by PRS is paid to a VERY small group of BIG wheels in music and Publishing , and a VERY small part is paid out to the VAST majority who have managed to jump through all the hoops and filled in the acres of paper to actually get PRS membership for their dozen or so pieces of music .
Alan says he has received £3.50 in a year - What does Michael Jackson's estate get per annum ? Or Sir Paul McCartney ?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:42 AM

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?

But, on a side note, if it's a business, can't she just claim it back as expenses when she fills in her annual tax return? Obviously, she'd have to stump up the money in the first place, which might be a struggle, but if she gets it back eventually, that's not ultimately such a big deal.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 09:24 AM

I raised the question before on here regarding the status of these bods who do the phoning up and threatening.

My guess is that they are self-employed, a bit like vacuum cleaner or double glazing salesmen, getting paid only by results.

I remember looking up the Companies House annual report for PRS and pasting it on a previous thread. They spent millions on "staff salaries" but only had about five bona-fide employees IIRC.

They do a necessary job in some respects, but their tactics stink IMO.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 09:46 AM

"Alan says he has received £3.50 in a year - What does Michael Jackson's estate get per annum ? Or Sir Paul McCartney ?"

Well, if Alan's songs sold millions of copies he would be getting big bucks too. No offense to Alan, I'm sure he's a talented musician and hopefully his day will come.

Michael Jacksom certainly had something that the public liked. The fact that his music is not my personal cup of tea is beside the point.

Regarding Sir Paul, I personally think several of Neil Innes' parodies are better than the originals, "Another Day", "Get Up and Go", and "Doubleback Alley" are the first that come to mind. But Paul's sold a lot more records.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Bernard
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:38 PM

Beeliner... Well, OK, Bernard, I'm sure electricity is a considerable expense for a small business too.

Why not just shunt around the meter, or tap into the supply of the building next door?


A rather lame argument deliberately avoiding the point.

If someone is using someone else's efforts in order to make money (mobile DJ, for example), then the PRS have a case. However, when someone is using their own, or public domain sound sources, then they are merely parasites going for the easy target.

To take your unfortunate parallel with electricity, a business has a choice - they can cut down their consumption, and therefore their expenditure. They can even choose a cheaper supplier.

Just supposing your electricity bill was based on some arbitrary figure dreamed up by the electricity company. Would that be fair? But that is how the PRS work, and the people who matter rarely receive a fair 'cut' of the earnings - a seriously high proportion simply goes to administration.

Sorry, I don't wish to continue with this pointless argument... I'm out.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:56 PM

From Wikipedia, quoted previously:

"PRS For Music is a non-profit-making organisation. After operating costs are deducted (which in the past have averaged about 12% of turnover) the remaining money is distributed to the copyright holders (in the case of PRS, these are the songwriters or the publishers with whom they have agreements)."

I don't consider 12% 'a seriously high proportion'.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:49 PM

What I would really like to know is, does PRS have a special legal position which enables them to send out bills (which would otherwise require a contract of some sort between PRS and the organiser) and require people to fill in forms without first demonstrating that their members' music is being used, or can they actually be required to provide the same standard of proof as anyone else in English civil litigation? Oh yes, and does the old criminal offence of demanding money with menaces still exist? Just thought I'd ask.
Come to think of it, I've been playing live music for something over 40 years from pubs to the Royal Festival Hall, and the PRS seems consistently to have been the most universally loathed organisation that I can think of in connection with the music business during that time. If it was so vital to us all, you'd think it would have generated a bit of respect in forty years...


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,stallion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:09 PM

So Mr McCartney gets the bucks from the millions of sales and gets another bite of the cash on the probabality that anyone owning a music device audible to more than one person will be playing his songs? so cos we only sell a couple of hundred cd's we get nowt when a track is used as a theme song for a radio program, that really does whiff a bit it isn't as though he needs the money, idea, why don't the PRS distribute the cash inversely proportional to the ammount of cd one sells, that way struggling artists can be supported, a sort, performers in need society, it would also free up some jobs since they may be able to persue a musical career full time and give up their day jobs.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:04 PM

There is a subtle difference here
If music is being played for people attending an event which charges for people to listen to music,pay for music on a CD etc then a proportion of that money going to the artists I can see is fair and correct.
If music is being played for teaching purposes I do not consider that that should be subject to PRS,the children/students are going to learn to dance,the music plays a very small part of their entertainment, most of the evening taken up with dance instruction.
What was the significance of DEC 1st mentioned earlier? Is there some rule change?
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:44 PM

Just tying up some loose ends:

1. Bernard says that he refuses to continue a 'pointless argument'. I was under the impression that our exchanges were part of a friendly discussion. Funny how perceptions differ.

2. Alan, it is not a matter of 'music being played for teaching purposes' but of the owner of a commercial establishment using licensed music for commercial purposes. If she told the owner of the building where the business is located that she should not have to pay rent because her accomodations were being used 'for teaching purposes', what do you think the owner's response would be? Also, isn't the music an essential part of the instruction? I understand that there are some forms of dance that do not involve music, but I don't think that's what we're talking about here.

3. I am neither a composer nor publisher of music and am therefrore not a member of AFTRA nor of BMI. I know LOTS of musicians who are and I must say in all honesty that I have never heard a negative remark about either of those organizatioins. It's too bad that the situation in the UK is different.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 04:29 PM

I don't think there should be a charge for any music used for educational purposes... EVER! I don't care whose music it is or what educational establishment.

It is disgusting to require schools to pay for their choirs and bands and drama groups to learn and perform anything not in the public domain. I remember (when I lived in US) being stunned how much a tiny county high school had to pay for the privilege of using popular music in the marching band. And $500 to put on the play The Mouse That Roared.   I know for a fact the school did not make enough in ticket sales to pay for the rights to perform it. That was 1996 or there abouts. No wonder there are constant fundraising events to keep music and drama programs from crashing. No wonder schools are removing them from the curriculum.

My work has me sometimes involved with Arts Development for a large county council in the UK. Loads of dance, music, and drama groups are going under thanks to the current financial crisis. The members of PRS and other like organisations would do well to offer amnesty for a few years until the economy recovers. Especially as it appears that only the huge names benefit from it anyway.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Simon G
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 04:32 PM

Firstly PRS is a cooperative, its actions are as representatives of all those friendly song writers you know who are members. Nobody has to join, although PRS effectively have a monopoly. PRS is not an arm of government nor a quango.

You are only require a licence from them if you play music in your premises which is copyright by one of their members. Play music licenced using say Creative Commons or that is out of copyright and you owe them no licence fees.

I just wonder how many folk clubs are in premises that are paying the £10 PRS fee per musical event (if its a pub) -- even if only a handful turn up it is still £10. By way of comparison, here in Canada, SOCAN charge a fee per annum of $60 - £34 or 3% of revenue which ever is higher. For 50 events that is $1.20 (£0.68) per event.

The PRS and SOCAN agree on the 3% of revenue for larger premises. The PRS is very heavy handed with small premises and events, I suspect a large proportion of that they collect from this activity goes to pay for sales work - all those salesman trawling through yellow pages and local adverts.

I would suggest SOCAN collects no less money for its members it just doesn't employ an army of salesman to pester small premises.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:24 PM

We are in total agreement Virginia.
A percentage of the yearly turnover I think is being mentioned, I am sorry to be so vague as the person concerned is just a friend who was worried about this approach for money,over the phone. It is difficult to obtain full minute details from a conversation with somebody but this is how it was passed on to me.I cannot understand the significance of Nov 1st it must have been a new ruling regarding PRS in Schools.
Remember that in the course of an evening or days instruction one record or a pianist playing one piece could only be involved.
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:58 PM

Mr Happy, that's the date from which an analogue receiver will have nothing to receive, I imagine (from the context), and therefor no licence fee should be incurred for that component of a VHS recorder.

Don T


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 06:01 PM

""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.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Kev Boyd
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 06:24 PM

Mr Happy / Alan Day: "what's the significance of 2nd December?"

As Bernard was discussing TV licencing I assume he was referring to the upcoming digital switchover that's due on December 2nd in the North West of England (and quite possibly elsewhere). After this date it won't be possible to receive analogue TV signals so in theory his VHS player with an analogue receiver won't require a license. It'll be interesting to know how the TV licensing authorities take to this theory!


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 06:27 PM

I continue to find it extraordinary that on a site dedicated to music so many contributors seem to be opposed to the idea that composers and songwriters should have no rights to their work.

Education may be important, but does that mean schools shouldn't pay for their textbooks? Perhaps they shouldn't pay the teachers either? Why is music different? If they're going to use the results of someone's efforts, then that person should be rewarded.

Presumably VirginiaTam expects to be paid for her work in Arts Development? Why then shouldn't the actual artists be paid?

There are real questions about whether PRS's charges are proportionate, whether the money they collect gets to the right people, and the attitude and behaviour of their agents, but if you love music you should be supporting the rights of composers to their work.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: beeliner
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:48 PM

I believe that a 'gremlin' snuck into Howard's first line and it should read:

"I continue to find it extraordinary that on a site dedicated to music so many contributors seem to be opposed to the idea that composers and songwriters should have THE rights to their work."

Apart from that, I agree completely.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 02:52 AM

It is not the composer's rights we take issue with, it is the organisation's targets (small struggling education establishments) and tactics (which has been described as thuggish).

Do you think it is fair that small schools are priced out of being able to use popular music or new arrangements of classical music in their orchestra, marching band, and choir repertoire? Sad, because it is the popular music which attracts students to the curriculum, where they learn other music which is in public domain.

This practice is going to return us to the days where culture is only for those who afford it.

There has to be a fairer way of collecting and disseminating those fees.

Sorryy, my back gets up whenever there is a mention of Paul McCartney because I know what his performance contract is like and is likely to be same for other big names.

No members of trade unions permitted to work his gigs. Why? It turns my stomach.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 03:22 AM

I think it is the way it is collected and distributed is the problem, Pound for pound the PRS money paid by the venues and concerts i attend are not proportionally distributed to the peoples who's music i am listening to, if only 5% (arbitary hypothetical figure)of the income of PRS goes to the folk industry they should only pay 5% of the fee. A fairer way would be to charge per song and distribute accordingly, at first it would seem to be an administritive nightmare but on line tax returns seem to work so why not on-line PRS returns.
I don't write songs but I do significantly "tweak" them,occasionally I do hear my tweaks being repeated by others but I don't expect to get paid for it. The one to ask would be John Connoly the writer of that fine old traditional song Fiddlers Green, it's personal info, but you once saw a version of it on most juke boxes, I wonder if he got his fair share of the PRS pot.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 04:46 AM

Beeliner, thanks for pointing out the mistake in my post.

I'm no supporter of PRS's methods, as opposed to its aims, but it seems probable to me that they are now targeting smaller users because they have already got the bigger users signed up. Anyway, it's nothing new, they've always gone for smaller users as well as the large ones, and their attitude has always been agressive and objectionable.

Some replies have suggested that schools and other educational establishments should not have to pay for music at all. As VT says, the issue is more about how much they should pay. If schools are being priced out of using music that is because PRS's pricing structure is wrong. But you could say the same about other essentials like textbooks, or teachers, or toilet rolls. Schools, just like everyone else, should expect to pay for what they consume.

There are two big problems with PRS. The first is that it is a monopoly (worse, one with statutory support), so it can set its prices and if you don't like you've no alternative other than not to use any copyright music (and even then you'll have an argument). The other is that it is an inefficient bureaucracy. Since there isn't really a workable alternative, most of its members are probably glad to get whatever money finally filters its way down to them. However if the PRS pricing structure is actually deterring people from performing their music, are they really acting in their members' best interests?

Another problem is one which also crops up with the Licensing Act - both seem in capable of recognising that there is a world of public performance outside the "music industry" and which is not run on a commercial basis. To apply the same scale of charges to these and to commercial operations is inappropriate - PRS's charges should pay some regard to the economics of the venue.

I know of at least one folk club which was threatened with closure after the PRS visited, not least because of the PRS rep's obnoxious attitude. So far as the pub landlord was concerned, hosting the folk club was part of the pub's role in the community, not a commercial operation - OK, he'd sell a few extra pints but he was quite prepared to lose the music and the small profit on these rather than pay the PRS.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 04:54 AM

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.

Tom

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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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:04 AM

I recently got a speculative letter from PRS to suggest that my workplace should be registered in the event of providing background music to 'my workforce'

My workplace happens to be my flat, and my workforce is me!!!!

As an aside, if a builder, or any other type of worker, whistles while working whether that would be a public performance?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:42 AM

Tom, I don't doubt what you are saying is correct. However, PRS does not charge by the song, neither is the charge made direct to the performer. It is the venue which must obtain the PRS licence. The PRS argues that it is impossible to guarantee that a copyright piece or arrangement will never be performed, and a single performance is sufficient to trigger the need for a licence. This assumption is probably realistic, especially for folk clubs where there isn't a fixed set-list and anyone can stand up and sing, often without knowing the copyright status of the song.

I'm not sure its good news that the tariffs are set by an independent body, as that appears to remove any possibility of negotiating in individual cases.

The PRS's tactics have not only been discussed many times on here and other music-related forums, but stories appear from time to time in the national press. They seem to be oblivious.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:56 AM

Can't speak for PRS but the Irish counterpart IMRO is predatory to the point of destroying public performance (or would be if it was allowed to).
One of the issues yet to hit the fan here is the plan to demand payment from individual cinemas each time a song or tune is played on screen during a performance (despite the fact that film-makers have already paid for the use of these during the making of the film).
Irish cimemas, thanks to falling numbers, are running on a shoestring basis. There is one cinema in this county (Clare) which will almost certainly close if such a policy is enforced, leaving us with the propect of a 120 mile round trip to see a film. Our local arts centre occasionally shows films - presumably this practice will cease too.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 06:02 AM

Our local folk festival only uses venues that are PRS registered i.e. they have already paid PRS, yet we are landed with a demand from PRS for a % of our 'take'. We challenged as to 'by what right can you do this?' The reply is, more or less, 'we can do what we like'.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: s&r
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 06:09 AM

Debbie Mulloy of the PRS said at the AFO (Association of Festival Organisers) conference that the charging structure is currently up for review. The AFO is one voice that will put a case for Folk music. Debbie suggested that if you had problems with or caused by the PRS charges then you should get in touch and explain what the problems were.

Two of the problems mentioned were festivals which had a large non music content as part of their programming and so felt that a blanket fee of 3% of total ticket sales led to a disproportional charge on the music content, and festivals and clubs where a large proportion of their musical content was not PRS music, and so the PRS content was disproportionally loaded. Their are other problems I am sure, so tell the PRS.

Stu


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