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Do I need a licence?

With the news that Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) and Performing Rights Society (PRS) are joining forces to provide businesses with a joint licence for public performance in relation to music and sound recording rights, it is perhaps a good time to review the licenses that you may require if you are providing certain types of entertainment services on your park.

Music

PPL collects and distributes licence fees for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers, whereas PRS for Music collects and distributes for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.

If you are staging a live event or playing music on your premises whether for customers or staff; for example, through radio, TV, CD, MP3 or computer speakers, or at live events, this is considered ‘public performance’. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 states you need to get permission from the copyright holder to ‘perform’ music in public – and a music licence grants you this permission.

You should be aware that if you play music that is outside the control of PRS for Music, you may also need an additional licence from the relevant copyright owner(s).

In some circumstances your use of music may not require a licence and in some situations you will not require a licence where PRS for Music members have chosen to waive their rights. Certain conditions apply in these circumstances:

  • where there is an exemption in UK copyright law which permits the use of copyright music without the consent of the rights-holder
  • when your music use in very specific circumstances is covered by a PRS for Music non charging policy
  • if you never play music, or in the unlikely event that all the music you play is out of copyright or is not controlled by PRS for Music

In order to play recorded music in public, you need legal permission from the owner of the copyright in that work.  A music licence from PRS/PPL grants you that permission.  For more information on the types of licenses and their terms and costs please see www.prsformusic.com and www.ppluk.com.

Local Councils/Authorities

The circumstances in which you are providing the entertainment will dictate whether you need a licence from your local council or authority.  A licence is not required to stage a performance of live music, or the playing of recorded music if:

  • it takes place between 8am and 11pm; and
  • it takes place at an alcohol on-licensed premises; and
  • the audience is no more than 500 people

You also will not need a licence:

  • to put on unamplified live music at any place between the same hours; or
  • to put on amplified live music at a workplace between the same hours and provided the audience is no more than 500 people.

In other circumstances, you are likely to require a licence to cover regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol, if relevant.

Further exemptions to the requirement for a licence apply in a number of circumstances, including if the music you are playing is “incidental.”

Local councils can review and revoke a licence where problems occur in relation to music entertainment and noise nuisance and if you are providing entertainment services you will certainly want to keep the local council on side.

Plays or dance performance

A licence is not required to stage a performance of a play or a performance of dance if:

  • it takes place between 8am and 11pm; and
  • the audience is no more than 500 people

Otherwise, again, you are likely to require a licence to cover the play or dance performance and the sale or supply of alcohol, if relevant.

Indoor sporting events

A licence is not required to stage an indoor sporting event if:

  • it takes place between 8am and 11pm; and
  • the number of spectators is not more than 1,000 people

Otherwise, again, you are likely to require a licence to cover the indoor sporting event and the sale or supply of alcohol, if relevant.

Screening a film

If you are showing a film in public or in private but charging for entry (or intending to make a profit – note that even fund raising for charity is included here) you are likely to require a licence.

Licensing of entertainment under the Licensing Act 2003 is entirely separate from copyright authorisation to show films in public and you should seek advice on clearance and licensing ahead of any planned event.

Neil Eagleton is a senior associate in the IP and IT team in Exeter. Neil specialises in advising clients in the fashion, media and entertainment, sports and music sectors. If you would like to contact the Neil, please call 01392 210700 or email ip.it@stephens-scown.co.uk