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PRS at it again!!

The Shambles 17 Dec 05 - 03:27 PM
George Papavgeris 17 Dec 05 - 12:44 PM
s&r 17 Dec 05 - 12:30 PM
treewind 17 Dec 05 - 10:01 AM
George Papavgeris 17 Dec 05 - 07:01 AM
s&r 17 Dec 05 - 06:14 AM
Betsy 17 Dec 05 - 05:54 AM
treewind 17 Dec 05 - 05:16 AM
woodsie 17 Dec 05 - 05:09 AM
George Papavgeris 17 Dec 05 - 04:40 AM
woodsie 17 Dec 05 - 04:09 AM
GUEST, Topsie 17 Dec 05 - 03:48 AM
treewind 16 Dec 05 - 05:52 PM
Wesley S 16 Dec 05 - 05:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Dec 05 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,The Devonian 16 Dec 05 - 03:04 PM
George Papavgeris 16 Dec 05 - 02:32 PM
s&r 16 Dec 05 - 01:58 PM
Anglogeezer 16 Dec 05 - 01:34 PM
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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 03:27 PM

Perhaps the onus is on those PRS members who do not agree with the tactics used in their name to ensure that tactics which bring the whole process and their organisation into question and public ridicule are not used? And to pursuade their organisation to act to their wishes.

I fear that reform of these kind of restrictive practices is not undertaken from within by its members - it will be imposed upon them.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 12:44 PM

Sure, there are holes in the logic, Stu - just because I understand it it doesn't mean that it cannot be imroved. And indeed Anahata's suggestion would be an improvement; if only PRS could be persuaded to adopt it.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: s&r
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 12:30 PM

It's a fine point as to whether a non profit making body is a beneficiary (ie festival) and a public hall which retains profits from the hire of the hall and the revenue and the sale of food and drink is not a beneficiary. The logic is to say the least a bit suspect.

Stu


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: treewind
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 10:01 AM

Topsie: on further thought I don't think sampling applies to the BBC's broadcasts. They religiously report everything, because being very public they have to do these things correctly. I haven't checked the details of our other bits of airplay: maybe they were covered in a separate return.

George: my point was that the PRS could safely ignore events where the only "payment" is increased sales of drinks just because a number of people happen to be using the pub for a social gathering (which happens to be a singaround). The whole turnover for such an event should be beneath their radar. As soon as a performer is paid, whether by the pub or by a folk club using it, the thing should becomes a commercial venture, what the licensing people call "putting on entertainment" - then license fees seem fair enough, payable by the pub or by the club as appropriate.

It wouldn't be difficult to make the distinction between one and the other.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 07:01 AM

Anahata, I agree of course with you about the principles on which PRS is (or should be) based. But a slight correction, if I may (I am in prize pendant mode this morning) - and this might also serve as part answer to Stu's frustration in his first paragraph:

I think the criterion that PRS uses to determine if the event constitued public entertainment is not whether the performer is getting paid, but rather whether the audience pays - either through a ticket or through increasing sales for the venue (drinks in the case of a pub, more custom in the case of a hairdresser's etc etc). In other words their thinking pivots around the potential benefit to the venue, and that is why it is venues and not performers that are licenced by PRS.

The only exception to this that I can think of is major public events (like festivals), where it is the event organiser that gets licenced, as he/she is the main "beneficiary" (i.e. collector of monies). This explains the temporary suspension of the venue licence during a festival, that Stu mentioned (otherwise there would be double licencing during the period of the festival).

The wedding example is exempted because it does not constitute public entertainment (the important word being "public" here, i.e. it is by invitation and not open to all), and no financial "beneficiary" exists to be licenced.

I have to say that I can understand this logic as a basis. But extending licencing higgledy-piggledy to other circumstances without thought about these basic principles is what produces travesties like the case of Steve Kowalski's shop. It seems to me that PRS itself, or at least some of its officials, do not understand their own basic principles - or they choose to ignore them when it suits their money-grabbing purposes.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: s&r
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 06:14 AM

As a festival we used PRS licensed premises. Set lists were furnished to PRS and everyone was happy. Then suddenly they unilaterally told us that we must tell the venues to suspend their PRS licence for the period of the Festival, and pay 3% of our gross ticket sales (which include camping, security, etc).

They also want additional payments for pub sessions, street dancing and workshops.

The extortion is the threat of legal action, which a voluntary festival cannot afford.

Stu


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: Betsy
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 05:54 AM

I share the sanme PRS status as El Greko, and would heartily agree with his comments in his postings.
Common sense please - how can yu try a instrument with a tune you have never heard ?

Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: treewind
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 05:16 AM

I'm with you both about payment for the performance.

Personally I don't think the PRS should be charging any venue a licence fee if the musicians and singers are unpaid for whatever they do. That automatically covers trying an instrument out in a shop, and it covers pub sessions and folk clubs that are singers clubs only, and in the case of a club that has booked guests and floor singers the licence fee should be proportional to the amount of paid entertainment (i.e. booked guests) vs. unpaid.

Behind this is a fundamental principle of what the PRS is supposed to be about, and I hope George, as a songwriter, will agree with me:
If you've written a song and someone else makes money by singing it at gigs, it's reasonable that you as the writer get some reward for providing the singer with (part of) the means of making his income. But if another singer performs your song at an unpaid session, he is not benefiting materially and it's not reasonable for the PRS to make a claim on your behalf.

The PRS doesn't seem to agree with this, and treats any public performance, paid or not, the same. Even more bizarrely, it DOES make a distinction between public and private performances.

So if I book Joe Soap for £1000 to sing some of George's songs at my daughter's wedding party (a private, if very hypothetical, event) the PRS don't seem to think George deserves anything for the trouble of writing the material used, yet if Jim Spriggs sings the same songs in a session, (no pay, no entrance fee), the PRS expect the venue to pay a licence fee.

As I understand it, some prominent songwriters seem to agree with this, and might even challenge the PRS (who are providing a service for them) for wasting their money trying to investigate and police unpaid sessions. But apart from that there's a general lack of motivation for most PRS members to lobby the organisation to change things.

Their excuse on the private gigs is that it's difficult to enforce.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: woodsie
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 05:09 AM

Thanks for that El Greko. I stand corrected. If this is the case, then why have the PRS not collected these monies in the past - can they be sued for negligence?

We had a woman from the PRS attend one of our sessions. She sat and took a note of what was played. Nothing came of it, we heard no more from her. The building where the session was held is owned by Greenwich council and they already have a PRS sticker on the wall, so I can only assume they pay! - I wonder if the composers of the songs that she noted got any of it?

What's it all about? Did you know that PRS is regitered in UK as a charity!


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 04:40 AM

Woodsie, you are confusing royalties from sales of the music (which is administerd by MCPS and is irrelevant to this discussion) with royalties from performances of the music either live, or by having the record played on radio or TV or in a public venue for entertainment (which is administered by PRS).

Also, in the case of playing something you have just made up, the tune is clearly as yet unregistered for copyright, so none of this applies.

I agree with your conclusion, however, even if the examples were inappropriate.

Issues of mechanical and performance copyright are in fact essentially simple in their basics - it is all the extra clauses and provisos in contracts that complicate matters. The issue at the heart of the example of Steve Kowalski above is whether trying out an instrument in a music shop constitutes "entertainment". I argue that common sense dictates that it is NOT entertainment, and therefore does not require licencing by PRS or PPL.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: woodsie
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 04:09 AM

"A spokesman for the society said that royalties were crucial to songwriters and musicians and music shops received a 30 per cent discount."

Yes, we agree royalties are crucial - but wait a minute. Isn't a "royalty" an agreed percentage of money paid for the performance? It certainly was when I worked in the accounts dept for Decca in the 70s. Lets say that the publisher has agree a royalty to the composer of a piece of music of, let's say 10% of sales. Then in the case of somebody trying out an instrument playing notes from the piece 10% of money paid to the musician for playing (£0) = £0.00.

The other scenario would be - what if I go into a shop pick up a banjo and play something that I have just made up - will I then receive a payment from PRS?

Somebody needs to kick these bureaucratic assholes into check. Sue the bastards for harassment or trying to obtain payment using menace.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: GUEST, Topsie
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 03:48 AM

If PRS payments result from sampling, presumably the likes of Verity Sharp will know in advance which broadcasts are being sampled, and can choose to play works by people they would like to support financially.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: treewind
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 05:52 PM

Some guitar stores display a big "No Stairway" notice.

And "GUEST Devonian": Will the PRS try to charge the likes of Hobgoblin and Bridge Instruments if any folkie plays a recognisable tune when trying out instruments at festival stalls?

The original post suggests: yes they will, if they think of it.

This is all absurd. If they charge the shop, then if George (for example) goes into the shop to try out a guitar and plays one of his songs he should be able to submit it to the PRS as a registered performance and claim money back from them. Even more absurdly, they'd probably pay up too.

We've (or Mary has) just had a return from the PRS. One entry (that paid us the princely sum of 55p) was for a song done in a session at Bedworth Festival two years ago. BUT... the PRS were making the festival fill in a report on every song sung and tune played at all events, so we had only dutifully done as requested - and that was the eventual result.

The entry for a song Verity Sharp played on Late Junction (BBC R3) earlier this year was nice, though :-) A bit more than the above mentioned 55p. I think it was the result of sampling because two other tracks played on LJ on other dates weren't mentioned.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: Wesley S
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 05:28 PM

But consider this - if this means that no one would ever be able to play "Smoke On The Water" or "Stairway To Heaven" in a guitar store ever again - that could be a good thing.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 04:14 PM

yeh they're a gang of scufflers all right. its the fault of people like me (full members) who can't be arsed to attend meetings.

every so often they send me these awful magazines full of pictures, where clapped out rock stars from the last few hundred years hand over vast sums to classical scholars for writing a piano concerto that no one gives a shit about.

meanwhile evrybody plunders our music, and ludicrous stunts like this idiot who has raided the music shop....well it defies belief really!


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: GUEST,The Devonian
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 03:04 PM

Will the PRS try to charge the likes of Hobgoblin and Bridge Instruments if any folkie plays a recognisable tune when trying out instruments at festival stalls?

I'm told the festivals already pay 3%+VAT of their box office income to the PRS. Will an extra tax now be levied on stallholders at festivals?

It's crackers.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 02:32 PM

More often than not I find myself defending PRS in these pages, but in this case I think Steve Kowalski was right not to pay up - this is extreme. As a potential buyer of an instrument, of course I would want to try it first, and of course I will do so by playing something I already know. This is not entertainment, it is a tryout. Who in their right mind would listen to a shopful of aspiring buyers trying out various instruments for "entertainment"? Let PRS sue, if they have the balls, and I am pretty certain they would lose - this is too extreme. Furthermore, should they sue, I would then as a member write to them bemoaning the fact that they use their cut from my royalties to fund such silly and nonsensical activities.


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Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
From: s&r
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 01:58 PM

Interesting that the PRS take from all the Festivals that are trying to be successful, and use part of the taxes raised to subsidise the Club Tent at CAMBRIDGE?

Stu


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Subject: PRS at it again!!
From: Anglogeezer
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 01:34 PM

The following is from the Daily Telegraph, 15 th December:-
***
Music shops to pay for listening to customers.

The owner of a music shop has been told that he must pay £114 in royalties if any of his customers try out instruments with a recognisable riff before they buy.
Steve Kowalski, of Jones Music in Macclesfield, Cheshire, has refused to pay for the annual licence from the Performing Rights Society. He said, "They say it constitutes a public performance."
A spokesman for the society said that royalties were crucial to songwriters and musicians and music shops received a 30 per cent discount.
****************
They just don't stop do they??
Jake


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