Saturday, October 31, 2009

Whistle While You Work? Did you Pay your Royalties?

There was a time when the only way to hear music was to be there when it was performed. If you wanted music in your life, you had to make music. Music was a community endeavor. Over time, we stopped thinking of music as something to do, and started thinking of it as an entertainment product to consume.

The idea of music as a possession and money-making product can lead on occasion to ridiculous extremes. The BBC is reporting today on a woman threatened for infringing on songwriter's intellectual property by singing while stocking shelves at work. Sandra Burt, a 56 year old store clerk was called out by the Performing Right Society (PRS), which collects royalties on behalf of the music industry.

The village store where Mrs Burt works was contacted by the PRS earlier this year to warn them that a licence was needed to play a radio within earshot of customers.

When the shop owner decided to get rid of the radio as a result, Mrs Burt said she began singing as she worked.

She told the BBC news website: "I would start to sing to myself when I was stacking the shelves just to keep me happy because it was very quiet without the radio.

"When I heard that the PRS said I would be prosecuted for not having a performance licence, I thought it was a joke and started laughing.

"I was then told I could be fined thousands of pounds. But I couldn't stop myself singing."

Public outcry over the strong-arm tactics caused PRS to reverse its stand. Read the rest here:

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Tayside and Central | Apology for singing shop worker.