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PRS Demands License Fee To Play Music To Horses 305

Posted by samzenpus
from the horses-prefer-country dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A woman in Bushton, Wilts, has been told by the Performing Rights Society (PRS for Music) that she needs to pay an annual fee in order to play classical music from the radio to the horses in her stable, something that she has been doing for the past 20 years. The PRS claims that it's not about the horses — rather, it's about her staff of over two people, which puts Mrs. Greenway in the same category as shops, bars and cafes. 'The staff are not bothered whether they have the radio on or not, in fact they don't particularly like my music and turn if off when I'm not around,' said Mrs. Greenway, 62. 'Especially on windy days I try to play it — it gives [the horses] a nice quiet atmosphere, you can only exercise one horse at a time so it helps the others to stay calm. We are right next to the RAF Lyneham air base so it dulls the noise from the aircraft as well.'"

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PRS Demands License Fee To Play Music To Horses

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  • lolwut (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RuBLed (995686) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:20AM (#27398225)
    She is already tuning to a local Classic FM radio station, from what i had read she isnt even playing her own CD's, tapes etc.

    brb, I'm setting my radio now to max volume and pointing it at the street. Now if everyone would just do the same...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TrancePhreak (576593)
      Yea, that sounds a lot like double-dipping to me... Since the radio already pays to play it there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by the_womble (580291)

        Playing a radio in these circumstances is a public performance under British law and she does need a license.

        However, given that it is being played for the benefit of the horses, I do wonder whether we will need to pay more for licenses to play music if our pets listen.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by AliasMarlowe (1042386)

          Playing a radio in these circumstances is a public performance under British law and she does need a license.

          She could just tell them that her staff are all deaf, and thus cannot hear the music. However, she would happily pay the public performance license if they can supply a sign-language version of their music.

          This assumes that the public performance license does not apply if the audience cannot hear it. But I'm not entirely sure this assumption is correct, alas.

    • Re:lolwut (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:18AM (#27398547)

      In some countries it doesn't matter what the source of the music is. CDs or Radio played at the workplace/shop/gym is counted as public performing and these lovely people want royalties from that, nevermind how miniscule the audience.

      It's kinda like the debacle in Finland a few years ago when the local music IP organization demanded that taxis start paying a radio play fee since radio during a fare "gives added value to the service". AFAIK ever since most taxi drivers in Finland just stopped playing the radio... Double dipping, or more like triple dipping. There really is not shame to these people.

      • by Asztal_ (914605) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:01AM (#27398745)
        Let's not forget the time the PRS sued the police [arstechnica.com]! This is all getting rather silly.
    • omfgponies! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      so who ratted her out?
      the PONYS?!??!?!

      • it was probably the donkeys nearby that ratted on her, they have no taste I tell ya!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Nah, it was those pikeys. From TFA:

        An American harpist reported that her music helped calm sick digs at a Florida vet's clinic and one online retailer sells specially selected CDs for cats.

        Excerpt from "Snatch" for reference:

        - Is the big fella not coming with us?
        - He's minding the car.
        - What does he think we are, thieves?
        - No, nothing like that.
        - He just likes looking after cars.
        - Good dags. Do you like dags?
        - Dags? - What?
        - Yeah, dags. - Dags. You like dags?
        Oh, dogs. Sure, I like dags.
        - I like caravans more.
        - You're very welcome.

        Pikeys are well-known for their skills of negotiation in business. It's probably why they talk like that... ... so you can't follow what's being said.

    • by Xest (935314)

      I'm not sure what's going on but recently the PRS seems to have awoken.

      They've been on a massive collecting spree lately, going after everyone from builders playing a portable radio as they build an extension on a house through to staff of big businesses playing the radio in the office to this sort of thing.

      I can only guess they've see how much cash the RIAA has racked in with it's threats of litigation against file sharers and is simply going for the same tactic en-masse (although it's always done this, ju

  • So stop... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:23AM (#27398243) Homepage Journal

    She should simply stop. Get a buttload of dirt cheap CDs in the bargain basement bin for $0.99 each, or better yet, get a lot more stuff off a site such as Magnatune [magnatune.com] or an Internet radio station, and let the PRS rot in hell in total irrelevance. I think they've completely lost the concept that they need this woman, in actually having an avid listener, a hell of a lot more than she needs them.

    • Re:So stop... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:28AM (#27398601)

      She should simply stop. Get a buttload of dirt cheap CDs in the bargain basement bin for $0.99 each, or better yet, get a lot more stuff off a site such as Magnatune or an Internet radio station, and let the PRS rot in hell in total irrelevance.

      The issue is not radio versus personally owned copy. The PRS appears to be claiming that this is a public performance (see that PRS stands for Performing Rights Society). In which case it doesn't matter how the music is acquired, only that the way she is playing it in a way that she is not licensed for.

      • Re:So stop... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:35AM (#27398909)
        She could always get royalty free music [creativecommons.org].
        • Re:So stop... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by eggz128 (447435) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:57AM (#27399357)

          The only problem then is the hassle of convincing the PRS that such a thing as "Royalty Free Music" exists [fsb.org.uk].

          From time to time when they telephone here I consider screwing with them... trying the royalty free line... but I always end up thinking better of it and just tell them (the truth!) that we don't play any music here.

          • Re:So stop... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:37AM (#27400085)

            They seem to be targeting all farms lately. Playing music to the cows when milking, playing music in the tractor, etc.,

            Don't open any of the letters.

            Get your phone on the TPS (telephone preference service) http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/
            There is also ctps (corporate telephone preference service)

            If they phone report them! They can get fined up to £5,000 for each call. The more people who do this the better, as it will hit them in the pocket.

            They have a legal right to collect monies for their clients. Not to harrass you, or come onto your land without your permission.
            If they come onto your land they are Tresspassing!

      • by icebike (68054)

        Tune her radio to the BBC. They paid the fee already, and as a tax payer, she is part owner of the BBC like every other citizen. Let the PRS sort it out with the BBC.

        It can not be that you have to pay a fee to transit the material by radio, and also a fee to convert the radio to sound waves without it ALSO requiring a fee to convert the sound waves to ear-pressure changes.

        Does the PRS require listeners to be licensed?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by digitig (1056110)

          Tune her radio to the BBC. They paid the fee already, and as a tax payer, she is part owner of the BBC like every other citizen. Let the PRS sort it out with the BBC.

          The BBC pays its fee, I'm sure. But playing a BBC station where the public can hear it still counds as a public performance, so a further license is still needed.

          It can not be that you have to pay a fee to transit the material by radio, and also a fee to convert the radio to sound waves without it ALSO requiring a fee to convert the sound waves to ear-pressure changes.

          It could be the case, but you'll be glad to hear that it isn't. Only the first and third fees you describe are payable. There is no longer a license fee for possessing a radio receiver.

      • by jbn-o (555068)

        The PRS doesn't control all recordings, regardless of the expansion of their acronym.

      • by syousef (465911)

        The issue is not radio versus personally owned copy. The PRS appears to be claiming that this is a public performance (see that PRS stands for Performing Rights Society). In which case it doesn't matter how the music is acquired, only that the way she is playing it in a way that she is not licensed for.

        Buy a sound system that plays MP3 and get creative commons licensed works. Does the PRS have authority over CC works in Britain too? If not the only other issue may be that she'll have trouble finding classic

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It might not be enough. As others have pointed out, CDs may be taxed as well, as happens in some countries (the keywords being "public performance", regardless of the source of music).

      Even trying to play music licensed under Creative Commons or some such license may prove troublesome, as the PRS collects fees for all artists, even those that have opted out of it.

      Maybe if you could prove the music was CCed and from a foreign origin...? Quite troublesome as well. The point being, where does the madness stop?

    • Re:So stop... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:37AM (#27398643) Homepage Journal

      My solution would be (since the other reply is right -- your personal CDs are the same as a radio for lic. purposes) to find a radio station that played ONLY royalty-free music, and make sure everyone knew WHY I chose that.

      Tho the only one I can think of offhand plays decidedly unrestful music :)

      • by jimicus (737525)

        My solution would be (since the other reply is right -- your personal CDs are the same as a radio for lic. purposes) to find a radio station that played ONLY royalty-free music, and make sure everyone knew WHY I chose that.

        Tho the only one I can think of offhand plays decidedly unrestful music :)

        This is the UK, the lady in question is in her 60's and running a horse stable.

        I don't think she'll be rigging up a laptop to play an internet radio station any time soon.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The thing is that music you buy in stores is, legally, licensed (just like software). While there may be no EULAs, you still are only legally allowed to use the music for personal use. The line of legal uses is blurry (playing the music to your family is clearly legal; playing it in a for-profit business like a disco or selling copies of that CD to others is clearly illegal - if you want to do that, you have to negotiate a special license with the record studio). In other cases it's a gray area, and the cas

    • by MoFoQ (584566)

      that won't work...at least not directly as playing back CDs will also constitute a "performance," unless the copyright on the CDs that are played have expired.

      The only other exception to it I can see is if the music is if the artists involved waive it for her; in other words, take a song that has no copyright and in the public domain, and perform it yourself (or with an artist who doesn't mind not getting a license fee).
      I guess a local college orchestra who's willing to recite a song for free or whatever an

  • Tell them you switched to CDs and continue with the radio. This is ridiculous. How did they even find out she was using the radio? TFA states the PRS was targetting stables...so all stables play the radio for horses.
    Seems asinine. Too bad this applies to both the UK and US.
  • by Norsefire (1494323) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:29AM (#27398285) Journal
    As is evident by their long faces.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:31AM (#27398295)
    She should tape a few hours of music from the radio, then play it backwards to the horses. That way, she's not playing any actual RIAA music to anybody, (and the horses probably won't understand the subliminal messages anyway).
  • by Greymoon (834879) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:37AM (#27398325)
    Send £99 worth of horse shit to the PRS. Tit-for-tat.
  • by Ken Broadfoot (3675) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:00AM (#27398459) Homepage Journal

    I, for one, think the horses should pony up and pay. Musicians need the cash.

  • by feepness (543479) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:02AM (#27398465) Homepage
    Horse headphones.
  • The staff are not bothered whether they have the radio on or not, in fact they don't particularly like my music and turn if off when I'm not around.

    The staff isn't bothered by the music, but they don't like it and turn it off when she's not around?

    Still, stupid as can be. Enjoy your nanny state. Ours is coming soon enough.

  • ...mandatory earplugs (or iPods) for the people working there? First, with an airforce base next to it, it should be easy to get this past regulators. Second, the people there ain't too thrilled about the music anyway, so they won't complain that they can't hear it anymore. And she's not paying for the horses but her workers, so the leeches can't milk her anymore.

  • OK (Score:5, Funny)

    by TRRosen (720617) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:09AM (#27398495)

    Lets just all agree to pretend that Britain doesn't exist.

  • by greatpatton (1242300) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:40AM (#27398651)
    There is more than enough public domain classical music (remember that in Europe it's only 50 years for performers). So find some Mozart recorded more than 50 years and tell them to go to hell.
    • by jonwil (467024)

      Knowing the way most "performance rights agencies" act (and the way that the laws are written), playing any music at all (regardless of whether its public domain or you have permission from the copyright holder or whatever) without paying the mandatory "performance rights agencies" license will get you hit with a notice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ciderVisor (1318765)

        I wonder what they'd make of musical wind sculptures in the garden of your workplace ?

      • {X-Men}

        "If you give the performance rights angencies any momentum at all, their notices cannot be stopped."

        {/X-Men}

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tomatensaft (661701)

        Hey, where can I sign up to open another "Performance Rights Agency" and collect royalties for any copyrighted material over there? =) Sounds like a great business plan: just go around collecting royalties and pay yourself a nice hefty salary. Pay a couple of cents for artists that happen to ask for a cut of those royalties. :)

        What's so special about that PRC, that entitles them to do that on behalf on all artists? Why can't a man from the street start his own agency?..

  • by nicc777 (614519)

    This is insane! It's like we are going back to the dark ages...

    I just can't imagine that there are people sitting some where in a room that can actually think of ways like this to milk innocent people for more money.

    Ah - and now you will tell me that the devil made them do it - and for once we all might agree on /. :-)

    • It is a very lucrative business and many people have shared in the profit of it. Consider the "juke box" or muzak in stores and malls. The people who operate these machines have a vested interest in these profits. Their lawyers are constantly trolling for violators so that most people will pay without question. It is the key to Microsoft success, aggressive lawyers and the money flows. The problem is that people will consume the product and as silly as it is, it is not the people who embrace openness that
      • by daveime (1253762)

        Congratulations, you win today's award for the "Lowest Possible Depth Sunk To Slur Microsoft".

        The article, in case you hadn't noticed, was about "Music for Horses", NOT "Microsoft". I realise they both start with the letter "M", and this obviously stimulated one of your three neurons enough to generate your post. Really, is there no limit to these trolls ?

  • What about buying a cheap radio for each of the Staff? Then they're all listening to their own personal radio, just all set to the same station. No public performance at all.

    This is pretty stupid though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by reiisi (1211052)

      Different stations, with earplugs.

      If only one person is listening to each radio, it's not a public performance any more.

      And the stuff can listen to what they like, since they really don't like the classical. (Although, she would then have problems with some staff playing head-banger music loud enough to spook the horses through the plugs.)

  • by Farenji (1306493) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:02AM (#27398751)

    I have a business at my home with me being the only employer. But I received a letter from the SENA (equivalent of PRS) stating that I need to pay for music played in my own home, for my ears only. The letter showed 2 options: "1. I don't play music at all" and "2. I do play music, please send me a check". I missed the option "3. I have a private business in my home without any personnel so I can play any music I like for free, sod off". I complained about that and after a few months and several letters, I got the answer: "you're right sir, but most people pay anyway!" We're talking about 90 Euro each year minimum.

    Please note that this SENA is backed by the government. It's a crooked world.

    • by Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:30AM (#27399201)

      ...I received a letter from the SENA (equivalent of PRS) stating that I need to pay for music played in my own home, for my ears only.

      Same shit applies in most European countries - seen it in Belgium. The irony of the case I saw, was it was a Thai supermarket - they only played music off imported Thai CDs. Do you think any of the original artists get a cent from this collection body?

      No, neither do I.

    • Isnt that fraud?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jimicus (737525)

        If there is legal backing for at least some of the money they take, it suddenly becomes a lot harder to convince anyone in authority that it is an orchestrated fraud rather than a mistake.

        Or, to put it another way, you have to make a lot of mistakes before anyone will suspect foul play.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Halo1 (136547)

      For Dutch people: look here [vrijschrift.org] for a short FAQ regarding what to do about these letters (summary: ignore them, they're misleading and baseless if you just play music for yourself).

    • Send them a letter telling them to "go to hell", using those exact words. I replied to them thusly, as well as to the "Stichting Reprorecht", a foundation that has the authority to collect IP fees on material such as books and magazines being copied for business purposes. I've never heard from them since, even though you are right that they actually empowered to collect those fees. Sadly we have no such thing as congressmen to write to about this, but if you know any politician involved in this stuff, wr
  • Don't tell the PRS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:25AM (#27398853)
    But I play music for the dogs on Guy Fawkes night. The music distracts them from the sound of the fireworks. It would never have occurred to me that this could be a "public performance".
  • Double dipping (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:46AM (#27398961) Journal

    The thing that really annoys me about this is that the PRS wants you to pay for listening to publically-broadcast radio. The radio station has *already* paid the PRS, so this is double dipping. The PRS, incidentally, also wants you to pay if you listen to *talk* radio.

  • We need an LRS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:56AM (#27399019)
    We need a Listener's Rights Society, where we can be compensated for hearing music we DON'T want to hear. Think about it, how many times do you hear an awful song in a situation where you can't turn it off? And they want royalties for that?!
    • We need a Listener's Rights Society, where we can be compensated for hearing music we DON'T want to hear. Think about it, how many times do you hear an awful song in a situation where you can't turn it off? And they want royalties for that?!

      Bring it on!

      I can't wait to see Brittney Spears and Michael Jackson made bankrupt for offending my ears!

  • Simple (Score:2, Redundant)

    by spike1 (675478)

    Sound recordings in the 1950s were adequate quality so invest in some vintage vinyl.

    Rip it, run it through a scratch and pop removal program, mp3 it and play that to the horses.

    50 years, then copyright expires, so she can go and get any old record published before 1959 and play that without hindrance.

    They take her to court, she screws them for libel. :)

  • I mean, think about it. If she weren't letting those horses listen for free, they might have had to go out and purchase the CDs themselves, which is the very core of her sins against the music artists! I mean, if we allowed this, what next? Would she try to hang a painting up in there for just anybody to enjoy who could see it?!? I think you see the sort of anarchy, mayhem, and potty-mouthed language that would ensue in a world where music was just allowed to carry out over free and unencrypted manure-l

  • This is not about playing music for horses. Rather, it is about her playing music that her employees can here. The latter is enough for ridicule, but lying in the headline undermines any argument made by the article.

  • Great, just great. I leave the radio on for the cats now I've got to convince them that come pledge time to send in a donation, do you know how hard it is to get a cat to do anything? Let alone reach Golden Producer level donations.

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