Note: Copyright law is technical and uses terms and concepts with which most people are not familiar. PRS for Music tries to explain the legal requirement in clear terms for its customers. Please refer to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Acts 1988 for full details or seek independent legal advice.
In UK copyright law, a person wishing to play copyright music in public will generally require the consent (or licence) of the copyright owner before doing so. ‘In public’ means, broadly speaking, to an audience outside of his/her domestic or home circle. If the person does not obtain the required licence they may risk infringing copyright.
So, in nearly all cases, if you are playing our music (copyright music written, published or arranged by a member of PRS for Music or one of its affiliated societies) outside the home (or domestic environment), you will need to buy a Music Licence unless:
- there is an exemption in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) that means you do not have to obtain a copyright licence,
- your music use is covered by a PRS Charging Policy and PRS for Music has decided, at its discretion, not to make a charge for our licence in your circumstances.
Even if you think you don’t need a licence by law or, that you would not be required to pay PRS for Music a fee as a result of a PRS Charging Policy, we always recommend that you contact us to discuss your music use. We will help you ensure that you have the right licence in place to lawfully perform and authorise the performance of our music in your premises. If you don’t need a licence, or if you don’t need to pay a licence fee, PRS for Music will note this information and ensure that you do not receive our standard mailing letters.
PRS Charging Policies
PRS for Music has a number of discretionary charging policies which define circumstances in which we choose not to make a charge for our licence.
PPS Charging Policies are entirely at the discretion of PRS for Music. We reserve the right to change its charging policies with reasonable notice.
A charging policy does not necessarily cover all music use in a premises – you may need to pay a licence fee for some of your music use. See below for details. You are responsible for making sure you have the right licences in place.
These Charging Policies apply to the public performance of our music in the circumstances described. Any other uses of music may require payment of a licence fee.
Currently PRS for Music has charging policies affecting the following:
- Medical Music Therapy
- Healthcare premises
- Residential homes
- Music used in divine worship
- Music used in wedding ceremonies, civil wedding ceremonies and civil partnership ceremonies
- Police Stations
- Crematoria, chapels of rest and funeral parlours
- Private family events
- Small bed & breakfast establishments & single self-catering units
- Universities and other institutes of higher education
1. Medical Music Therapy
PRS for Music does not make a charge for music used as part of Medical Music Therapy sessions, in whatever premises those sessions take place. Medical Music Therapy means formal therapy sessions where music is an integral part of the therapy, used for the direct benefit of individuals with diagnosed conditions.
Medical Music Therapy does not include background music use as part of other kinds of medical or non-medical therapy, such as physiotherapy or massage, as music is not an integral part of the therapy.
Back to top
2. Healthcare premises
We do not make a charge for our licence in the following circumstances:
- Background music use in treatment and therapy areas within hospitals and clinics (including outpatient units attached to hospitals), except where a specific charge is made to the patient for the use of music. This includes areas used by patients (such as patient wards, patient day rooms, patient dining rooms, treatment rooms and operating theatres). A licence fee is payable for other areas such as foyers and waiting rooms, cafes, restaurants, music at events, staff only areas and staff clubs.
- Any music use in a hospice, refuge or similar premises, where the music use is consistent with the activity of the centre.
- Background music use in certain areas of Medical Day Centres, exclusively used by patients/attendees who have been referred to the centre by their medical practitioner (or similar). These premises are considered the same as hospitals and clinics. PRS does not make a charge for background music use in treatment and therapy areas or areas such as patient lounges and dining rooms.
This policy does not cover GP surgeries or dental practices, nor cosmetic treatment and therapy areas in the non-medical sector (e.g. beauty therapy, nail-bars).
This policy does not cover non-medical day centres.
For all other healthcare premises, a licence fee remains payable.
Back to top
3. Residential homes
This policy relates to premises such as residential homes for the elderly or disabled and premises within sheltered communities.
PRS for Music does not charge for music use in residential homes, where the use is consistent with normal domestic music use. For example, the following uses would not be charged:
- Background music use in bedrooms, flats and communal areas
- Informal performances of music
- Formal performances of music where no related charge is made to the residents.
Any music use not consistent with normal domestic use remains chargeable. This may include formal performances where a charge is made to the residents, or use of hold music on telephone systems.
In addition, PRS for Music does not make a charge for our licence for any music use in a hospice, refuge or similar premises, where the music use is consistent with the activity of the centre.
Back to top
Some shops may not need to pay a licence fee if the only use of music is covered by PRS for Music’s ‘Working Order Check’ policy.
PRS for Music, at its discretion, does not charge a licence fee where the only use of music in a shop is the result of a very brief check to ensure that electrical equipment or musical instruments are in good working order. This policy may, for example, affect electrical repair shops or music shops.
Back to top
Workers/colleagues and/or customers/clients have been recognised by the courts as falling within the composer's ‘public’. Any person wishing either to play or to authorise the playing of our music to such individuals in the workplace - wherever that workplace is situated - should therefore obtain a Music Licence.
PRS for Music requires any workplace using music to obtain a Music licence. However, PRS for Music, at its discretion, will not make a charge for its licence in certain circumstances:
- Home offices within a private residence - for an individual working on their own in the home office or for people who are permanently resident at that address. However, if you have colleagues working with you (who do not live at the premises) or customers/clients coming into your home (and music is played at these times), PRS for Music would apply the relevant tariff.
- Lone workers - workplaces with only one worker, where music is not made available to any visitors/customers coming onto the premises.
- Personal Portable Devices - Where music is only used in the workplace by individual employees or workers solely by means of Personal Portable Devices (such as MP3 players) with headphones. Any music must only be audible to the employee or worker to whom the Personal Portable Device belongs through a headset attached to that device and not to any other individual in the workplace.
If music is made available to employees or visitors to the premises by any other means, PRS for Music would apply the relevant tariff.
Back to top
6. Music used in divine worship
PRS for Music, at its discretion, does not make a charge for music used at a recognised Service of Divine Worship in consecrated places of worship (of any recognised faith), where no charge is made to attendees for admission.
Back to top
7. Music used in wedding ceremonies, civil wedding ceremonies and civil partnership ceremonies
PRS for Music, at its discretion, does not charge for music use as part of official wedding ceremonies or similar, in whatever premises the ceremony takes place. This includes:
- Religious ceremonies
- Civil ceremonies
- Civil partnership ceremonies
Back to top
8. Police Stations
PRS for Music, at its discretion, does not charge a licence fee for the public performance of our music by recorded means or via TV or radio where these performances take place in police stations as part of a specific criminal investigation.
PRS for Music does not charge a licence fee for devices which are used solely for the purpose described above.
If the device is used for any other purpose, such as training, recreation or any activities not directly related to a specific investigation, the standard PRS for Music charges from the applicable PRS for Music tariff(s) will apply.
Back to top
9. Crematoria, chapels of rest and funeral parlours
PRS for Music, at its discretion, does not make a charge for any music use as part of funeral services or in waiting areas of crematoria (or similar premises).
- Music as part of religious or secular funeral or remembrance services for individuals
- Music in waiting rooms at crematoria or similar premises
Back to top
10. Private family events
PRS for Music does not make a charge for functions of a purely domestic or family nature, such as wedding receptions, christening parties or domestic birthday parties, when:
- Attendance of guests is by personal invitation only (except for staff, performers, etc.)
- The function is held in a privately-booked room, not at that time open to the general public
- There is no form of charge made for admission
- There is no financial gain to the function’s organiser or host (e.g. the person hiring the venue)
Back to top
11. Small bed & breakfast establishments & single self-catering units
PRS for Music charges for music in hotels and other holiday accommodation businesses.
However PRS for Music chooses not to charge a licence fee for background music (including TV and radio) in holiday accommodation businesses meeting all the following criteria:
- The premises has 3 guest bedrooms or fewer
- The premises is the sole holiday accommodation business operated or owned by the proprietors
- The premises is otherwise the domestic residence of the proprietors
- The premises is not licensed for the sale of alcohol (by the local authority)
- Facilities are only available to resident guests
This policy also applies to single self-catering units with 3 bedrooms or fewer, where this is the only self-catering unit operated/owned by the proprietors.
Back to top
12. Universities and other institutes of higher education
PRS for Music does not make a charge where music is used:
- Solely as a required part of fulfilling a recognised and official qualification, without a charge for entry.
- If the syllabus requires the event to charge for admission, evidence of the syllabus must be provided.
- In student bedrooms, provided as term time accommodation
- In dining/living areas of student accommodation (such as kitchens), where access is limited to students resident in the specific building and where the use is consistent with normal domestic music use. This does not include rooms which are accessible by other students, rooms used for activities such as clubs, meetings, parties or discos or areas where catering is provided, such as refectories.
Back to top
Following the exemption defined in the CDPA, PRS for Music does not license music use as part of the national curriculum or at any educational establishment where the audience comprises teachers and pupils (and other persons directly connected with the activities of the establishment) and the performance is given by a teacher or pupil (or by any person for the purposes of instruction), in the course of the establishment’s activities. Other music use in schools, colleges and universities does require a Music Licence. We have special tariffs in place for these organisations. For example, for a very reasonable licence fee, schools can use unlimited music throughout the year.
Schools and further education colleges are licensed through our agent CEFM.
What’s included in the ‘domestic environment’?
There is no specific legal definition of a public performance. However, PRS for Music would consider your domestic environment to include your own home (assuming it is not also your workplace or a registered business address), a private vehicle or private gatherings or events with family and friends.
If you’re in any doubt about whether you require a Music Licence contact us.