PRSformusic Respond to Parliamentary Questions, PRS complaints, Keep Music Free

Well, it seems to me that PRSformusic have failed to answer the questions asked in a clear manner, evading the essence of the question. It also seems that they may have mislead people in the answers they gave. I’ll happily stand up and be counted here – they *DID NOT* send a letter to my business before phoning up:

Before we call any business, as part of a licensing campaign, we always send a letter. Our letters explain clearly who we are, whom we represent and the licensing requirement. A typical licensing letter to prospective customers is attached as Appendix A.

And when they did call us, they *WERE* aggressive, suggesting most strongly that we would need a license come what may. Failure to purchase a license would result in action being taken against us. They did not enquire whether or not we listened to music, but asked whether we were aware that by listening to music in the workplace we were obliged to buy a license. Only later in the call did they bother to ask if we actually listened to music.

On the notion of double taxation (note, the question held the phrase in quotes, implying it was not a specific phrase, but a colloquialism):

Secondly, there is certainly no ‘double-charging’ when we license workplaces for the use of music, made by any means including radios. Copyright is a bundle of rights including copying, communication to the public (broadcast) and public performance. These rights are usually licensed separately, with a separate licence fee. To suggest there is ‘double-charging’ undermines the entire basis of the bundle of rights defined in the statutory framework.

So – evading the essence of the question, lets point out that it isn’t a tax. Where do PRSformusic state that they DO NOT collect money from radio stations for broadcasting copyright music? No… I didn’t see it either. So we are left wondering whether they collect from the station AND from the listener… a double collection if you will – a double ‘tax’ on listening to music.

On the question whether their activities have had any effect on reducing the number of people who now listen to music in the workplace:

There appear to be many reasons why commercial radio audiences have declined but we are not aware of any data or analysis that suggested that workplace public performance licences are an issue. Indeed, we have not found any published research on declining radio audiences which cites our licences as a factor.

I will say this again and again and again – it is *PRECISELY* because of your activities, PRSformusic, and the heavy handed way in which you are interpreting and applying the rules as you describe them, that has stopped me from listening to music at work. Period. I attribute this entirely to you, and your activities alone. It’s all very well quoting how good it is for people to listen to music whilst they work, but to encourage them and then charge them for the privilege is tantamount to obscenity, in my opinion. So as far as research goes, yours isn’t very good. There is at least one instance where your activities have reduced the amount of music in the workplace. I would guess there are many, many more examples. On the other hand, I bet there are untold numbers of plumbers, painters, chippies, sparks and other tradesmen who couldn’t give a flying one for your license fee… and still listen to music as they happily go about their otherwise very law abiding ways.

BBC Essex News Imagery

So the UK is in a big freezer compartment right now, and everywhere is pretty much covered with various levels of snow. As usual, the entire country grinds to a halt, when other countries, more regularly doused in the white stuff, seem to cope admirably well. I guess we’re just not used to inclement weather here in this maritime climate.

All the more fun then when I found an entire road almost abandoned and had the presence of mind to stand and admire the scenery with my trusty Panasonic Lumix camera. In truth, this sign is but yards from my front door – well, I couldn’t go out very far… it was snowing, y’know.

A quick snap later, and I thought I’d send it off to the BBC picture galleries. I was pleasantly surprised to learn shortly after that the picture was to be used as a main leader on the BBC Essex news website. It clearly made others chuckle as well as me, then.

January 2010 was chilly - welcome to Essex
January 2010 was chilly - welcome to Essex

And as it appeared on the BBC Essex News website:

Welcome to Essex, as seen online
Welcome to Essex, as seen online