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Page last updated at 06:36 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 07:36 UK
Employers told to pay up for music
By Tamsyn Kent
Newsbeat reporter

Man tuning a radio
Tony Jackson was told he needed a licence at work
If you're listening to tunes while you're at work, this is something you might want to tell your boss.

It is estimated that more than half a million businesses across the UK are playing music illegally. But many of them don't even know it.

By law, whenever music is played publicly (that's considered to be anywhere outside the home) a licence is needed.

It doesn't matter whether it's played on a radio, cd or mp3, or who's listening.

In the case of businesses, whether staff or customers can hear it, you still need a licence.

The Performing Right Society (PRS) takes the money and pays it to the artist.

Too complicated?

That's because under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 if you use copyright music in public, you need to have permission from every writer or composer.

Without a licence you could be taken to court and face a big bill for legal costs.

Last year the PRS made 134m from Public Performance Licences. They keep between 6-12% of what they take, before passing it on to the artist.

The songwriter can make anything between 1 and upwards of 20 per play.

But groups representing businesses claim it's too complicated for many firms to work out whether they need a licence and that smaller businesses, with just one or two staff, should be exempt.

WHO NEEDS A LICENSE?
A taxi driver needs one if his passengers can hear it.
Factory workers in a canteen are not in a domestic environment so a licence would be needed.
You do not need one if you're listening on a personal MP3 playera at work because it isn't a public performance.

Tony Jackson runs a garage in Nottingham, he used to listen to the radio all day until he had a letter from the PRS telling him he had to pay 138 for a licence.

He's refusing to pay, instead he's turned the music off.

He said: "if they were asking for 20 or 30 quid a year, OK great. I'd still begrudge it, but I'd pay it.

But 138 quid for me to listen to my music in my business of my own, that's taking the mick."

There are more than 40 different tariffs for music licenses depending on the type, size and nature of the business.

You can buy them online or over the phone.

'Money-making exercise'

Adrian Crookes, from PRS, said: "If you want to play music in your business, you've got to get the songwriter or the composer's permission to do that.

So what we do is remind businesses that they need licences and if they haven't got one, how they can get one."

Stephen Alambritis from the Federation of Small Businesses said it's a money-making exercise and some of the smallest firms can't afford it.

He said: "To enforce it on small factories where there are only two or three employees, in shops where it's obvious it's in the back room, then we don't think that they should be asked to pay."

The PRS said it is only fair that all businesses pay up.



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