SMEs uncertain about music licence obligations

Small businesses are uncertain about their legal obligations when playing music for commercial purposes and need clearer guidance to ensure they don’t break the law, according to the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

Logo - Performing Rights Society

Businesses which play music for commercial purposes risk prosecution for copyright infringement if they do not have the correct licence from the Performing Rights Society (PRS).

There are currently more than 40 price tariffs on the PRS website with licence costs, depending on factors such as the size of a business and use of music.

According to the PRS, a licence is necessary for any location or premises, outside of home, where music is played. This includes clubs and concert halls, discos and dentists’ waiting rooms, and trains and takeaways. Businesses can even fall foul of licensing regulations by playing holding music to customers on the phone.

“SMEs should err on the side of caution when playing music at work, but there is a poor level of guidance on the PRS website and the information that is there is confusing,” said FPB spokesman Maylis Foster. “The PRS needs to do more to help small firms stay on the right side of the law.”

Responding to the criticism, a PRS spokesman said:

“The PRS constantly runs awareness and advertising campaigns to publicise the issue of music licences. Last year we contacted thousands of businesses to inform them of their obligations.

“We also work with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and business organisations to provide information. However, being a non-profit organisation, there’s a limit to what we can do with our funding,” he added.

For more information about music licensing, visit the PRS website

Poor Guidance Leaves SMEs Uncertain About Music Licence Obligations

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