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Performing Right Society

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PRS for Music is a UK copyright collection society undertaking collective rights management
Collective rights management
Collective rights management is the licensing of copyright and related rights by organizations acting on behalf of rights owners. Collective management organisations, such as collecting societies, typically represent groups of copyright and related rights owners, such as authors, composers,...

 for musical works. PRS for Music was formed in 1997 as the MCPS-PRS Alliance
MCPS-PRS Alliance
The MCPS-PRS Alliance rebranded PRS for Music Jan 2009 - MCPS and PRS are the not-for-profit UK collecting societies that ensure composers, songwriters and publishers are paid royalties when their music is used: from live performance to TV and radio, CDs to DVDs, downloads, streams and everything...

, bringing together two collection societies: the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society
Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society
The Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society is an organisation that pay royalties to composers, songwriters and music publishers when a composition is manufactured into any format. This includes copies of the music alone such as CDs and downloads, and also products that use the music as a part of...

 (MCPS) and Performing Right Society (PRS). The PRS for Music brand was adopted in 2009.


PRS for Music manages about 10 million musical works on behalf of its songwriter, composer and publisher members. PRS for Music licenses its members' musical works whenever they are played, performed or reproduced both in the UK and globally through its partner network. A PRS for Music licence gives the user permission to play or use the music it represents in a number of circumstances such as on radio, TV, online or in public premises.

After operating cost
Operating cost
Operating costs can be described as the expenses which are related to the operation of a business, or to the operation of a device, component, piece of equipment or facility.-Business operating costs:...

s are deducted , the remaining money is distributed to the copyright holders (in the case of PRS for Music, these are the songwriters or the publishers with whom they have agreements). The owners of the copyright in the recording itself are served by an independent organisation (the PPL). If, for example, a cover version
Cover version
In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a contemporary or previously recorded, commercially released song or popular song...

 of a song is played on BBC Radio 1, PRS for Music collects a fee on behalf of the writer and publisher while Phonographic Performance Limited
Phonographic Performance Limited
PPL is the London-based United Kingdom music licensing company which undertakes collective rights management of recorded music and music videos for public performance, broadcast and new media use...

 (PPL) collects a fee on behalf of the record company whose recording is played.

PRS for Music has a range of tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

s for organisations (businesses, government organisations, educational establishments, and so on) dependent on their size and the extent to which they are using music, and whether they are commercial premises or not.

Around 350,000 UK businesses have paid for a licence from the PRS, but some workplaces do not need one:
  • Inpatient and treatment areas in hospitals
  • Medical day centres
  • Residential homes (in most circumstances)
  • Music used in divine worship (although licences are required for copyrighted music)
  • Civil wedding ceremonies and partnership ceremonies
  • Lone and home workers.

In February 2010, PRS for Music announced its 2009 financial results, which showed a modest 2.6% increase in revenue to £623m.
Business Area2009 (£m)
Broadcasting & Online 177.4
International 166.9
Public Performance Sales 150.2
Recorded Media 128.5
Total 623.0

Legal cases

In 2007, PRS for Music took a Scottish car servicing company to court because the employees were allegedly "listening to the radio at work, allowing the music to be 'heard by colleagues and customers.'"

In June, 2008, PRS for Music accused 11 police stations, one of which is in Lancashire, of failure to obtain permits to play music, and sought an injunction and payments for "damages".

Cross border European licensing

The Santiago Agreement was established in 2000 between five European collecting societies including the UK's PRS for Music and France's SACEM
Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique
Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique is a French professional association collecting payments of artists’ rights and distributing the rights to the original songwriters, composers and music publishers.-History:...

 and Germany's GEMA. The agreement allows each collecting society to collect royalties on behalf of members of the other collecting society — e.g. the PRS would collect money for German artists listed with GEMA — but to restrict licences to be sold only within the member organisation's home country.

The European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 decided in 2008 that the cross-licensing agreements formed by 24 collecting societies in Europe were in violation of anti-competition laws.


Along with Phonographic Performance Limited
Phonographic Performance Limited
PPL is the London-based United Kingdom music licensing company which undertakes collective rights management of recorded music and music videos for public performance, broadcast and new media use...

 (PPL), PRS for Music use the Centre for Education and Finance Management (CEFM) as agents to collect licensing monies from schools and colleges. Universities have separate arrangements.


In 2008, PRS for Music began a concerted drive to make commercial premises pay for annual "performance" licences. In one case it told a 61-year-old mechanic that he would have to pay £150 to play his radio while he worked by himself.
It also targeted a bakery that played a radio in a private room at the back of the shop.
a woman who used a classical radio to calm her horses and community centres that allowed children to sing carols in public. However, questions have been raised about the tactic of targeting small businesses:

"Radio stations pay large amounts of money to licensing organizations PRS and PPL for the music they play, and music has been on the radio for many years. During the war, there were programmes like Music While You Work. Now, many radio stations have features about workplaces. If the PRS forces people to switch their radios off then how are these stations going to survive? Music has to be heard before people go out and buy it." (The Bolton News
The Bolton News
The Bolton News - formerly the Bolton Evening News - is a daily newspaper covering the towns of Bolton and Bury in north-western England...


As BBC radio
BBC Radio
BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927 see British Broadcasting Company...

 is publicly financed through the TV licence fee
Television licensing in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies, any household watching or recording live television transmissions is required to purchase a television licence every year. As of 2010, this costs £145.50 for colour and £49.00 for black and white. The licence is required to receive any live...

 providing a service free of charge, further legal questions have arisen over the PRS's remit. The BBC pays a fee towards PRS Licensing and a TV Licence only covers you for a broadcast signal, not the nature of the programming in a commercial premises.

In March 2009, the on line video-sharing site YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

 removed all premium music video
Music video
A music video or song video is a short film integrating a song and imagery, produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings...

s for UK users, even those supplied by record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

s, due to a failure to find "mutually acceptable terms for a new licence" with the PRS. As a consequence, PRS established the Fair Play for Creators campaign in order to provide a forum where musicians could "publicly demonstrate their concern over the way their work is treated by online businesses". David Arnold
David Arnold
David Arnold is an English film composer best known for scoring five James Bond films, the 1994 film Stargate, the 1996 film Independence Day, and the television series Little Britain.-Film and television career:...

, Jazzie B
Jazzie B
Trevor Beresford Romeo OBE , better known by his stage name Jazzie B, is a British DJ, music producer, and entrepreneur. He is a founding member of Soul II Soul.-Life and career:...

, Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg
Stephen William Bragg , better known as Billy Bragg, is an English alternative rock musician and left-wing activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, and his lyrics mostly deal with political or romantic themes...

, Guy Chambers
Guy Chambers
Guy Chambers is an English songwriter and record producer, perhaps best known for his long partnership with Robbie Williams.- Biography :...

, Robin Gibb
Robin Gibb
Robin Hugh Gibb, CBE is a British singer and songwriter. He is best known as a member of the Bee Gees, co-founded with his twin brother Maurice , and elder brother Barry....

, Pete Waterman
Pete Waterman
Peter Alan Waterman OBE is an English record producer, occasional songwriter, radio and club DJ, television presenter, president of Coventry Bears rugby league club and a keen railway enthusiast. As a member of the Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting team he wrote and produced many hit singles...

, Mike Chapman, Wayne Hector
Wayne Hector
Wayne Hector is an English songwriter.Wayne Hector has had over 30 number ones around the globe under his belt and numerous movie soundtrack credits, Wayne Hector is one of the UK’s most successful songwriters....

, Pam Sheyne and Debbie Wiseman
Debbie Wiseman
Debbie Wiseman MBE is a composer for film and television. She studied at Trinity College of Music Junior Department, and then piano and composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama....

 sent a letter to The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

newspaper in support of the campaign launched by PRS. A rights deal was settled in September 2009 between PRS and Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

 that allowed YouTube users in UK to view music videos.

Wiltshire Constabulary
Wiltshire Constabulary
Wiltshire Police, formerly known as the Wiltshire Constabulary, is the territorial police force responsible for policing Wiltshire and Swindon in the south-west of England.-History:...

 refused to pay PRS for a £32,000 licence fee in April 2009. Instead the force told all officer and civilian staff that music could no longer be played in their workplaces but that ban excluded patrol cars. A total of 38 of 49 UK police forces currently hold PRS licences.

In October 2009, the PRS apologised to a 56-year-old shelf-stacker at a village in Clackmannanshire
Clackmannanshire, often abbreviated to Clacks is a local government council area in Scotland, and a lieutenancy area, bordering Perth and Kinross, Stirling and Fife.As Scotland's smallest historic county, it is often nicknamed 'The Wee County'....

for pursuing her for singing to herself while stacking shelves.
PRS initially told her that she would be prosecuted and fined thousands of pounds if she continued to sing without a "live performance" licence. However PRS subsequently acknowledged its mistake.

In October 2010, it was reported that Sussex Police, in a money-saving move, were not intending to renew their PRS licence, meaning that Police officers would no longer be able to listen to the radio in their squad cars or other work places. However, it must be noted that the mention of not being allowed to listen in squad cars is incorrect as PRS does not licence work vehicles.

Alternatives to paying the PRS

There are internet radio stations that play music which has been licensed by the copyright holders such that it can be played without paying the PRS. This may include some Creative Commons or Public Domain music. According to these radio stations, there is no need to pay money to the PRS if only these radio stations are played at your workplace.

There are many radio stations that play creative commons music.

External links