Aug 19, 2015

Copyright Tribunal Reference Leads to Temporary Increase in PRS TV Admin Rates

PRS for Music ("PRS"), a UK copyright collection society, has recently written to and notified members of a temporary increase in their TV admin rates by 'an additional one percent for one year,' which is expected to be effective from October 2015.

PRS: a quick summary

Principally, PRS is responsible for managing the collective rights of musical works. The organisation is accountable for the performance and mechanical rights of musical works of songwriters, composers and publisher members when they are publicly performed or played publically in both the UK and worldwide. This can range from theme tunes, adverts and music played during films and TV programmes.

Referral by ITV

The increase in fees follows ITV's referral of a disputed new deal between itself and PRS, relating to broadcasts from 1 January 2015, to the Copyright Tribunal. The dispute centres on the existing copyright agreement and the present unequal fees earnt by rights holders on ITV (and other UK broadcasters) vis-à-vis the BBC. Currently, a one minute play on BBC1 at peak time would earn the rights holder £90.35, but only £11.95 on Channel 5.

ITV is arguing that the licences (which were due to expire on 31st July 2014) should not be to allowed to expire and should be significantly modified.

The PRS letter notes that: 'after careful consideration by the Executive Board, it has been agreed that there will be a temporary rise to our TV admin rates by an additional one percent for one year. This will be implemented to cover the expected costs associated with defending the recent Copyright Tribunal reference brought against PRS by the [large UK] broadcaster ITV.'

Given the associated costs with the music copyright industry and the need to protect and recognise the artists' intellectual property, it is not surprising that PRS 'feel it is vital that [they] fully participate and vigorously defend this referral to secure a fair return for the use of our members' work.' This stance will allow them to best 'protect and champion your [artists'] work' and ensure a '[fair remuneration] whenever it [their music] is used.'

The Copyright Tribunal's decision, whilst chiefly concerning ITV's licence, could set a precedent and have a knock-on effect for other UK broadcasters such as Channel 4, Channel 5 and MTV, who may yet see the money earnt through TV collections increase.

in: Copyright, Digital/Tech, News

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