Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Intellectual Property destroyed as shop worker allowed to sing in store without performance license, artists suffer

In an unfortunate turn of events, the PRS for Music society of the UK (not really like the RIAA as they're non-profit and aren't a trade group but still comparable in their attitude) has decided to let a supermarket worker off the hook for singing in the store where she works without a performance license, after initially (and rightly) threatening her with a fine.

The organization has done good work in the past according to Wikipedia:
In 2008 the PRS expanded their legal battle to require licensing to include 61 year old mechanic, Paul Wilson, who plays his radio when he works by himself, a bakery that plays a radio in a private room at the back of the shop, a woman who plays classical radio to calm her horses, and community centres that allow children to sing carols in public.
Shaking down schoolchildren and horses is a good start, and this group's shown a tireless dedication in the past to removing music videos from the internet, a step closer toward every good citizen's ultimate goal of making listening to new music little more than a theoretical possibility. Those of us who love the feeling of surprise upon listening to purchased records for the first time (bought at random according to the cover art the way God intended) need to work harder to remove music, and possibly other sounds as well, from the public arena.

Singing in a store may not seem the same as boarding a merchant ship and killing
its occupants, but it's the exact same thing. In fact, "piracy" doesn't even begin
to describe the effect on artists, producers and, most especially, our precious,
precious music industry executives. Stay informed. Stay Jesusamericafreedom.

In a flagrant disregard for the rights of artists, performers and our precious, precious music industry executives, the organization elected to send this unrepentant copyright criminal a bouquet of flowers and an apology rather than stand up for the rights of those who write music and then let others hear it only over their cold, dead bodies. How much is a performance license anyway? Shouldn't we all keep ours in our wallets? "I'm sorry - I can't sing with you. I didn't renew my I'm Walking on Sunshine license."

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.

. . .

"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.

"They would need to put a plaster over my mouth to get me to stop, I can't help it."

Making her get rid of her radio, which is a device that pulls music from the air that everybody can listen to for free, was certainly a good start. But I don't think I need to inform you of the gravity of this situation. Here's hoping that the people who initially made the decision to threaten this woman remain in their positions and then create a climate where artists can have the freedom they need to create the works of art that enrich our lives in the palm-scanned, soundproofed single-occupancy rooms in which we're permitted to listen to them.


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