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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 15:24 GMT
Digital DJs 'unaware of copy law'
CD and laptop
DJs can now create an entire sound and visual show from their laptop
Many DJs are still unwittingly breaking the law by playing unlicensed digital copies of tracks months after a new permit scheme began, the BBC has found.

The annual licences, costing 200 plus VAT, were introduced by royalty collection agency PPL in September.

DJs who copy tracks onto computers or MP3 players without one are breaking copyright law, the organisation says.

But Radio 1 DJ Fergie told Newsbeat he did not know about the licences and doubted many other DJs did either.

The licences are needed by any DJ who wants to store digital copies of sound recordings to use when playing in public.

There isn't actually very much money in DJing so to ask someone to shell out 200 is going to be a bit over the top
DJ Ritesh

This includes legally-purchased downloads, which are normally licensed only for personal use, as well as copies of tracks from records or CDs.

PPL said many DJs wanted to play from laptops or MP3 players instead of records or CDs, despite the fact it was illegal without the permission of the rights owner.

Business affairs director Peter Leathem told Radio 1's Newsbeat: "Rather than saying stop it, don't do it, we've actually tried to embrace what people want to do and come up with a licence to be able to do that."

Licensing 'sting'

He said the 200 charge was "reasonable", adding: "You don't actually have to DJ using a laptop. You can use vinyl, you can use CD, so we're saying that if it's not worth your while spending 200 then don't do it."

DJ Ritesh, who runs club nights and DJs in Bristol, said he had not been aware of the new licences, despite the fact he sometimes played his whole set straight from his laptop, without using his records at all.

You don't actually have to DJ using a laptop. You can use vinyl, you can use CD, so we're saying that if it's not worth your while spending 200 then don't do it
Peter Leathem, PPL

He told the BBC: "I think it will be very difficult to enforce, mainly because so many people play out in clubs every weekend. There isn't actually very much money in DJing so to ask someone to shell out 200 is going to be a bit over the top."

Another DJ, Lee Jarvis, from Essex, said: "It's a bit of a sting I think. For someone who's not a mega-superstar DJ a few hundred quid can really make a difference."

He was sceptical about how the licences could be enforced, saying: "I don't think you could stop a DJ mid-set and turn the music off because they haven't got a licence that's a bit extreme."

Breach of copyright

Yvonne Duffield, of Sedition DJs agency, said: "Generally I'm just a bit confused about it. It does seem quite a harsh amount to charge especially as young DJs cannot afford to pay a lot of money for vinyl so they rely on downloads."

Mr Leathem said the licences were intended to make life easier for DJs, who could buy a single licence instead of having to contact the individual copyright owner of each track for permission.

He said PPL would not take action to enforce the licences in the early stage of the scheme.

But once awareness had grown, it would start pursuing unlicensed DJs, who could face penalties including legal costs and breach of copyright damages.

Venues would be urged to check DJs were licensed before hiring them and those who turned a blind eye could also find themselves in trouble with the law.

The licence money goes to the 3,500 record companies represented by PPL.


What do you think of the new licences? Are you a DJ who uses digital copies of tracks? Is it right for DJs to use digital recordings rather than vinyl or CDs?




SEE ALSO:
Digital Citizens: My night as a DJ
21 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Digital Citizens: The DIY DJs
21 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
From disc jockey to digital jockey
30 Jun 05 |  Technology


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