December 9 2007

How To Strong-Arm A Charity

PRS LogoThe Performing Rights Society, a UK based organization charged with watching over musical copyrights, whom I have discussed before, are back with a new doozy of a story.

Dam House in Astley, near Manchester, UK, is a historical site and is open to the public. On the premises they have a tea room with fresh cooked food from an on-site kitchen. Well, last year, someone from the PRS stopped by, and, horror of horrors, they could hear the radio from the kitchen in the tea room! Being the nice folks most copyright organizations are, they informed Dam House they needed a license to play their radio. Not feeling like arguing with them, Dam House said they would pay the license fee.

Upon asking questions, the PRS learned they have an annual Christmas concert at the facility where children sing Christmas carols. Well, due to that little tidbit, the license fee shot up to £230 (approx. $460 USD). They held a raffle to pay the fee, and they moved on. This year they learned the fee was going to be £470 (approx $940 USD), and it seems this is because they have a function room. The PRS has informed them they can avoid all of this if they agree to sing songs only that are no longer under copyright.

Is it any wonder why people hate groups like the PRS, RIAA, and IFPI? It’s all fine and well that they want to protect copyrights, but this is insane. I am all for musicians getting the money they’re owed, but come on, the radio was in the kitchen, it was obviously not for public performance. And making kids who sing carols pay for the rights? Please. Yes, protect the copyrights, but have a damn heart, it’s a charity for crying out loud.

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