Half a million UK businesses play music illegally

Could listening to the radio at work become a thing of the past?
Could listening to the radio at work become a thing of the past?

It would appear that recent altercations between Lancashire Police and The Performing Right Society (PRS) have stirred up something of a hornets nest for companies across the UK. It is estimated that more than half a million businesses play music illegally - and the PRS is clamping down.

The law is nothing new - the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 clearly states that copyright music played anywhere outside the home constitutes as a performance, for which the composer must be paid. The PRS has called for all businesses, however small, to pay up for a license costing from £66 per year.

To put this into perspective, think of a window cleaner with a portable radio or a taxi driver delighting passengers with drive-time hits - no one is exempt.

Stephen Alambritis from the Federation Of Small Businesses (FSB) spoke to BBC Radio 4's Today programme about recent actions by the PRS: "Out of the blue our members are being harassed by the PRS. We have no problem with the PRS collecting money from restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars and those tunes on mobile phones in call centres".

Adrian Crooks, director of communications at the PRS, defended the licence: "I think it's important to remember that the 60,000 songwriters and composers who are our members are small businesses themselves, so we're very, very sensitive to the pressures on small business".

Tom Porter worked on MusicRadar from its mid-2007 launch date to 2011, covering a range of music and music making topics, across features, gear news, reviews, interviews and more. A regular NAMM-goer back in the day, Tom now resides permanently in Los Angeles, where he's doing rather well at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).