Small UK firms are being targeted by music licence companies chasing royalty for songwriters and composers. The Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS) has been accused of using aggressive tactics to get people to pay for licences.
The licences can cost from a few pounds to several thousand dependant on the number of people that potentially listen to the music. Businesses not obtaining the licenses could be fined thousands of pounds in court.
The PRS took in more than £600m in royalties last year. It is also reported that their highest paid director received £425,000 in 2007.
As well as making hundreds of phone calls and using private agencies they sent out 567,000 letters chasing money last year. Thousands of these letters were to one man businesses including Joan Collins, 57 who runs a software company from home and listens to music whilst working. He told the Times: “If my wife Susan brings me a cup of tea and hears the music then I be might liable”
“It’s a blunderbuss approach trying to terrify people that they need a licence. It’s a double bubble because the musicians are already getting royalties from the sale of the CD or from plays on the radio. They are just trying to rake in money for a failing industry.”
Last year the PRS were taken to court by the car repair chain, Kwik Fit in relation to the PRS claiming seven years back duty on licences for radios that Kwik Fits fitters bring to work. It is believed that cases such as this have resulted in the PRS looking for easier targets.
The Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost told the Times:“Businesses, and particularly small firms, feel increasingly hounded by the PRS. Not only are most companies unaware of the need for this costly licence, but they regard the PRS’s tactics as money grabbing.”
The PRS has denied cold calling or using any pressure selling tactics.