Small Businesses Federation opposes U.K. law

LONDON  — The FSB is lobbying the government to relax the law on making workplaces pay a license fee for playing music after claiming that the Performing Right Society (PRS) is becoming over zealous in its approach to collecting those fees.

British law states that playing a radio for the benefit of staff, or using music to engage customers, is of commercial benefit and therefore the people who created that music should be compensated for their work.

The PRS collects license fees on behalf of music publishers, composers and songwriters, while PPL collects a separate fee on behalf of record companies and the musicians whose performances contributed to the recorded music.

But the FSB  is now claiming that the law is unfair on small businesses and that the fees are too expensive.

The PRS has retorted by stating that it, too, acts on behalf of small businesses — the 60,000 composers and songwriters who derive income from the license fees.

PRS estimates that more than half a million businesses across the U.K. are not paying the license fees that they are required under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. And with the music industry struggling for revenues, efforts are being made to identify and invoice those businesses.

In 2006 the PRS collected more than £133 ($260 million) from public performance licenses, while PPL collected $98 million from licensing the public performance of recorded music.

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