Get the right licences for playing and screening

Posted: Tuesday, 8 August 2017 @ 10:56

What licences do you need to screen entertainment and play music in your venue? These requirements apply if you are entertaining the public in your venue or just entertaining your staff.

Screening TV and films

First of all you may need appropriate licenses from a satellite broadcaster to screen such things as live sport. But that is not all you will need if you show TV shows and films.

Over a year ago changes to Section 72 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 came into force, with the effect that the showing of copyrighted material requires a MPLC licence. This is a licence from the Motion Picture Licensing Company, a worldwide purveyor of film and TV rights. So if you show any copyrighted material, say TV shows and films, whether or not it is broadcast on TV or played from a DVD or indeed viewed over the internet,and whether or not the sound is turned on, it will be necessary to obtain an MPLC licence. This is also the case if the screening only takes place in common staff areas (it is ok in manager’ accommodation).

But there is an exception. An MPLC licence is not needed if you are just showing sports, news or music channels. But of course you may need the appropriate licence for screening live sport on non terrestrial channels.

There are 3 categories of licence depending on whether the venue is a pub/bar, a hotel, and restaurants/cafes. For examples the tariff for pubs and bars depends on the size of the area in which TV and other screens are situated. £95 plus VAT for up to 500m2, £142.50 plus VAT for up to 750m2 , £190 plus VAT for up to 1000m2, and for over 1000m2 an extra £9.50 per 50m2.

To check the full details go to the MPLC website by clicking here.

Playing Recorded Music

If you play recorded music in your premises, even if it is only in staff rooms, you will need to have an appropriate licence to play recorded music from the organisations which represent the composers or performers of the original material.

This involves intellectual property, the copyright in the recorded music, which cannot be played without a licence. For the individual playing a CD, record, or tape in private is not breach, because with the purchase comes the right to use that recorded music for personal enjoyment. But the playing of recorded music in public or the broadcast of recorded music on the radio or TV requires a licence from PPL.

PPL collects these fees on behalf of the performer concerned and record company members. So if you play recorded music commercially, in a workplace or other public place, and this would include places to which the public have access, you will require a PPL licence. But it is not just PPL who may need to licence the use. There is another organisation, PRS for Music, which collects royalties on behalf of songwriters, composers and music publishers. It "licenses the use of its members' musical compositions and lyrics when they are played in public, broadcast on the radio or TV, used on the internet or copied onto physical products such as CDs or DVDs". So if this applies to you 2 licenses will be required, one from PPL and another from PRS for Music. To learn more about the licensing process go to the ppluk website by clicking here.


Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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