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Music Idle

Singer In Grocery Store Ordered To Pay Royalties 645

Posted by samzenpus
from the silence-is-golden dept.
yog writes "An assistant at a grocery store in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, was ordered by the Performing Right Society (PRS) to obtain a performer's license and to pay royalties because she was informally singing popular songs while stocking groceries. The PRS later backed down and apologized. This after the same store had turned off the radio after a warning from the PRS. We have entered an era where music is no longer an art for all to enjoy, but rather a form of private property that must be regulated and taxed like alcohol. 'Music to the ears' has become 'dollars in the bank'."

*

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Singer In Grocery Store Ordered To Pay Royalties

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  • by thomasinx (643997) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:30AM (#29832361)
    Yes, she was ordered to pay royalties. However, shortly afterward, the company sent her flowers, and issued a formal apology (ie, they realized they went *way* too far).

    and I quote the article...
    "In a note attached to a large bouquet of flowers they said: "We're very sorry we made a big mistake. We hear you have a lovely singing voice and we wish you good luck." "
  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:49AM (#29832429)

    The thing is, the songwriters have already been paid - by the radio station. If it's BBC radio, we've already paid for that music out of our annual licence fee, or it's a commercial station with adverts. Every person in that store has the right to listen to that station already as the broadcast fees have already been paid.

    Now that it's suddenly being able to be listened to while on a store premises, it's a 'new' public performance and more money needs to be paid. It's double dipping for the same performance.

    You want to charge stores that play personal CDs through to customers? Fine. But leave my goddamn radio at my desk alone.

  • by chiguy (522222) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:56AM (#29832457) Homepage

    Capitalism? Copyright is a form of government regulation on what would otherwise be a free market. It would be more capitalist to abolish copyright.

    What's not capitalist about it? It's treating ideas and expression as a form of capital. It would be very un-capitalist not to exploit that for gain.

    He's saying Copyright is not a feature of Free Markets. He's just confusing Capitalism with Free Markets, and they don't require each other.

  • by ctrl-alt-canc (977108) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:16AM (#29832511)

    Their heirs can sue everybody flying with an helicopter [wikipedia.org]!

  • Re:What the...... (Score:3, Informative)

    by emilper (826945) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:29AM (#29832547)

    Copyright and patents existed even in the Communist block, and were enforced, too ... except the state owned most of the "Int.Prop." and a private person could not make much money out of his or her copyrights or "invention brevets" unless they already had a cosy position in the hierarchy of the state, party or one one of the professional guilds.

  • Re:Hoax (Score:4, Informative)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:31AM (#29832801)

    If you think it's a hoax, you probably don't know the PRS. The PRS pay their royalty collectors on commission. They have no interest at all in whether the target of their attentions are morally or legally required to purchase a license. They want to sell one to them regardless. This is just the latest of many such news stories of some of the ridiculous extremes their operatives have tried to extort money from people.

  • by SilentMobius (10171) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:34AM (#29832819)

    ASCAP are trying to push just that sort or nonsense. Thankfully they got a bloody nose trying it, but it's indicative of the way they think:

    http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/10/court-rules-phones-ringing-public-dont-infringe-co [eff.org]

  • by oheso (898435) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:49AM (#29832883)

    A bar owner in Japan was ordered to pay royalties for playing the harmonica for his customers. As far as I know, the decision has stuck.

    http://joi.ito.com/weblog/2006/11/10/elderly-harmoni.html [ito.com]

  • by mickwd (196449) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:54AM (#29832909)

    You got moderated funny.

    Read the appalling truth [bbc.co.uk].

  • More PRS idiocy (Score:2, Informative)

    by dcarmi (940742) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:16AM (#29832985)
    I recall two other stories relating to the PRS.

    One chap was phoned by the PRS and was found to be listening to music at work. He informed them he composed the piece and was the sole artist. This cut no ice, with the PRS. (I suppose he might possibly listen to illegal music, so he should be presumed guilty!)

    Another incident (2008) relates to the sole owner and lone worker in a garage in Nottingham being told he had to pay £150 to listen to the radio. see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/7671215.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Even if I listen to my MP3 player through headphones, my company is liable to pay for a licence! Perhaps I'd have to join the smokers outside for my quick fix of some illicit Pink Floyd.

  • by uuddlrlrab (1617237) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:30AM (#29833045)
    This is a truly pitiful state of affairs. Covering other bands' songs, as long as you gave credit to the originating artist, and tribute bands used to be respected as ways of admiring an artist or group, paying homage to their art. What an ugly road the music industry has chosen to take... [beatcrave.com]
  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:43AM (#29833139)
    Likewise in Germany. We get even more fun, though:

    - The GEMA (our ASCAP) requires that members register all songs that might possibly generate income with them. GEMA-registered songs cannot be made available for free.
    - Once a song is registered it stays registered as the GEMA can't unregister it without violating contracts it has with its customers.
    - If you perform your own songs you have to pay a performance fee. If you perform only your own songs and every single artist performing on the venue is listed on the form you get them back, though - minus a service fee.
    - If you do manage to put a song on your website that does constitute a public performance and you do have to pay the fee. Again, you get most of it back.

    That's just some of the fun GEMA disperses. Oh, and they operate on a "guilty until proven innocent" model - any song is assumed to be GEMA-covered until the creator proves it isn't. So if you make and perform CC music you better have a copy of the license with you.

    I agree that songwriters should get compensated for their work but it seems that the associations responsible for that have an unfortunate tendency towards asshattery. Must come with the (arguably valid) business model of charging people for work that already has been done before.
  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:49AM (#29833159)

    That's more akin to being charged a performance licence for your car radio while your windows are rolled down.

    Now that is a concept I could embrace, if it serves to keep those young idjits with the mega-bass boom boxes on wheels from cruising my neighborhood and disturbing my peace.

    (Insert obligatory "now get off my lawn" meme here...)

  • Re:I disagree... (Score:3, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@ g m a i l . com> on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:23AM (#29833289) Homepage Journal

    "We have entered an era where music is no longer an art for all to enjoy"

    It is if you make it yourself.

    But she did sing by herself and got threatened by PRS.

  • Re:Hoax (Score:5, Informative)

    by zstlaw (910185) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @07:24AM (#29833557)

    I am a musician. I have had placed I play threatened with legal action because the club hadn't paid ASCAP & BMI to allow them a performing license to allow me to play original music in that venue. And despite me not being represented by BMI I have the "right" to opt in at a later time so they are "entitled" to collect money until I decide to do so. You can opt out of Sound Exchange but BMI and ASCAP are organizations that act on our behalf whether or not we would like.

    The whole situation where all musicians are assumed to opt in and then must jump through hoops to get payments is a joke. As a small musician I am not showing up on the radio charts and since I have been in a dozen bands it would be a pain to collect checks for under a dollar for each group. It is not like the clubs report that I am playing there and that the set is all originals and that the BMI should not collect any fees from them that day. So the associations collect their fees and then figure that some major artist was being played because they base their calculations off of radio play.

    It is also annoying as it makes it impossible to may a truly free college or internet radio station. Even if I only played my own tunes I would have to pay a fee to do so and then register to get it back minus administrative overhead.

  • by DrogMan (708650) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @07:53AM (#29833671) Homepage

    Now I wish I had a better spell chequer than a teacher shouting at me when I was growing up.

    I have to ask - was that intentional?

    Sadly, yes. See: http://www.phys-astro.sonoma.edu/people/faculty/tenn/SpellingChequer.html [sonoma.edu]

  • Re:What's next? (Score:3, Informative)

    by M-RES (653754) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @09:16AM (#29834317)
    If the PRS are trying to recover money from you and decide to take you to court to do it, then the onus is on them to prove why you owe money, specifically proving in which way you have infringed upon or are basically covered by copyright laws. If they can't show which copyrighted works you owe royalty payments for then they don't have a leg to stand on and would indeed have to pay YOUR court costs/legal fees too. That's how the system works in the UK - loser pays. If they tried to claim ownership of your own original compositions, but you could prove otherwise it would further damn their case against you.
  • Re:What's next? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mikael (484) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @10:00AM (#29834679)

    It's one of those things in the UK - if you have a business and want to play music to your customers you have to pay a flat royalty fee of around 65 pounds each year. There was a local business (hairdresser) who had kept the radio in the front room and hadn't been paying this fee for 20 years, and was forced to go into liquidation over this.

  • Re:What's next? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rgarbacz (1450155) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @11:14AM (#29835527)
    I would just add, that in most EU countries, one also pays royalties to the music industry buying any kind of storage (HDD, CD-R*/DVD-R*, or flash).

    So My advice is to stop giving them excuse to lobby for more draconian law: do not copy illegally any content, use alternatives, use your voting power, also the money voting power. Fortunately we live in democracies, lets embrace it and use it, because slowly the law becomes insane. I moved to another DVD region, and now I cannot play my new and old movies on the same device. I cannot play movies on my computer (because the system I use is "too" user oriented). I cannot make a home movie and play it on a TV when using a computer with not too user oriented OS without HDMI. To see some movies during traveling I have to either buy another version, or carry all the DVDs I would potentially like to see. And all of these restrictions are not because of technology limits, not because I did not pay for the content, but because even though all the content I have is legal, I am still treated as a thief.

  • by KwKSilver (857599) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:52PM (#29841191)
    You know, like Mick Jagger, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Celine Dione, & various other impoverished, downtrodden performers. The nerve of that wealthy, powerful stock clerk. She got away with it too, which is why the artists' protection organizations like RIAA and MPAA need the right to just kill suspected offenders without the bother of courts and trials.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson

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