UK Retailers May Have to Buy Music Licenses for Console Demo Units

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UK Retailers May Have to Buy Music Licenses for Console Demo Units

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Several retailers have already received letters requesting that they either cough up or turn the music off.

PRS for Music, one of the organizations responsible for collecting fees and royalties for recording artists in the UK, has started to target game retailers' demo units. PRS claims that if a unit runs a demo that uses licensed music, then it counts as a public performance and the store needs a license.

A number of independent retailers have reported receiving letters from PRS demanding that they pay for the music that their demo units play. The cost for a license is between £140 and £465, depending on the size of the retailer, although as the music is part of a demonstration, it does qualify for a 30% discount.

PRS' head of corporate communications, Barney Hooper, said that with a proper license, retailers would be able to play whatever music they liked, whether from a demo unit, or some other source like a CD or a radio. If retailers didn't want to get a license, or couldn't afford one, Hooper suggested that they mute the sound on their demo units, so that there was no music to worry about. Hooper admitted, however, that it would be tricky to properly monitor the situation.

Demo units aren't a new idea, and it seems a little strange that PRS is only just noticing that music comes out of them. That's not to say that PRS is doing anything it shouldn't be; as Hooper said, it's not an easy situation to monitor, and many of the larger retail chains will likely already have licenses.

This could be another blow to independent retailers in the UK, who are already struggling to compete against retail chains and supermarkets. If this is something that is enforceable by PRS - which is not guaranteed, as the organization has made mistakes in the past - then it makes demo units less attractive, either because they suddenly cost a lot more, or because they have to sit in silence. It's not the sort of thing that's going to bring a store down by itself, but it certainly doesn't help the smaller operators compete.

Source: MCV

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Well you can understand where they are coming from but jeez do they want to elkiminate small busineses entirely? I now only buy my games from the only independent store I can walk to from my office (in Jersey City NJ) but as an english expat it just seems to tread on the small business operator

Shouldnt the music be covered by the license fee from the game makers? And what about arcade versons of the games?

Goddam, I hate being British at times.

What we really need during a retail recession is another bill to pay, you fornicating jerks.

So what about when they play music in the store? Why is that so different?

This is some half-baked bullshit to choke more money out of retailers.

Last year for my anniversary I asked the restaraunt my fiance and I were going to if they could put a special song on the sound system they had playing. The reason they didn't was due to something about rights and not being aloud to play what wasn't on a pre supplied list.

Yeah, isn't the whole rise of music games a huge boon to the music industry, both directly, and indirectly by introducing a whole new generation to older music they may never have looked at?

But when there's a guaranteed £145 now or possible tens of thousands down the line, they're gonna take the hundred, especially if it means they can spread some misery with it.

All we can do is hope the arms industry don't hear about the success of the COD Black Ops game, there were GUNS in that, and I reckon the arms industry deserves their cut, despite having already been paid off once.

Honestly , this is just one more example of how utterly prehistoric and clueless the music industry is, and exactly why they're failing, and why piracy is rife.

IF about 10 or 15 years ago, they'd set up an inexpensive, DRM free, simple to use, no limits music download site, I truly believe there'd have been far less piracy, and MORE money flowing into the damn industry.

Vault Citizen:
Last year for my anniversary I asked the restaraunt my fiance and I were going to if they could put a special song on the sound system they had playing. The reason they didn't was due to something about rights and not being aloud to play what wasn't on a pre supplied list.

Sean Lock had a radio sitcom, and one of the characters was an old man who kept forgetting about copyright law, and between scenes you'd hear him on the phone 'Hello? Sony Music? Yes, it's Barry again....yes, I was in the bath and...yes, was that Bill Withers song...lovely daaaay, you know, must have got thru a verse and most of the chorus before I even thought about it, how much do I owe you? Oh ok, lovely, I'll get a cheque in the post'

The usual money-grubbing.

Just when my opinion of the music industry could not get any lower...now they hire muscle to squeeze the little people for BS licenses!

Does turning the radio on count as a public performance too?

Don't they realize that they can potentially gain more cash if they allow demos to exist? Or do think that pennys are prettier than dollars?

spectrenihlus:
Don't they realize that they can potentially gain more cash if they allow demos to exist? Or do think that pennys are prettier than dollars?

hey piracy is not the only thing killing the music industry apparently stupidity is also having an effect

Vanguard_Ex:
So what about when they play music in the store? Why is that so different?

This is some half-baked bullshit to choke more money out of retailers.

They need a license for playing music instore too. That's common for any business that does so. My guess is if a store is playing music, it already has a license.

I'm not clear on the details, but the UK licence appears to be a 'blanket' licence covering just about anything you might want to play.

That might also explain how cover bands get away with what they do, since if I'm understanding it correctly, you don't need a license specifically for the songs you play, simply one that allows you to perform such songs in public.

spectrenihlus:
Don't they realize that they can potentially gain more cash if they allow demos to exist? Or do think that pennys are prettier than dollars?

Well the way I'm assuming the licencing system works is the Game Dev negotiates fee X for the music with the Label (or whoever owns it) and they make their money. This seems to be just an abuse of a legal loophole to up their revenue with a little bit on the side. Either they get the pay off from the small retailers or threaten potential purchases that could be fattening the Game Devs pockets. Sound really impacts a game so if you played a demo without sound it would probably colour your choice to purchase.

Haha wow. The term

comes to mind quite strongly.

It's not like most places can even hear what's being played over the rabble of people and sad repeating tracks over the store speakers most of the time.
And to a country already struggling to sell the over priced taxified dribble you throw our way. Yeah forget it.

This is a load of crap if I've ever seen one. The game developer already paid the licensing fee for the music so why on god's green earth should the store running the demo have to pay a fee as well? I'd flat out tell PSR or whoever tried to get money out of me for that to piss off. They already got their money from the people who made the game if the store should be paying anyone for having the demo stand in their store it's the people who's demos they're running not the freaking music industry.

Sometimes the idiocy of the greater entertainment industry baffles me. (or in this case angers me greatly)

The PRS is notorious for this. They will chase any and every business to try and sqeeze money out. I used to run a clothing boutique and had repeated arguments with them. The worst thing is, no matter how often they threatened they would never come down and check. Instead they would do random calls in the off-chance you had music on when they answered:

Me:Hello Violet Clothing workshop
PRS:This is the PRS you are shown as not having a licence.
Me:I dont need one, we only feature music from local artists in the shop, none of it is licenced
PRS:I can hear Megadeath in the background, thats licenced!
Me:Thats becuse you have called the workshop, this is where we make the clothing, the shop is on another number.
PRS:Bull, this is the number for Violet Clothing!
Me:No this is the workshop like I said, the shop is over five miles away, the number for them is ####### I am the only one in the workshop, I dont need a licence.
PRS:Well have your got one for the shop?
Me:Yes but not from you, I have music licence for the shop.
PRS:Thats illegal you need a performance licence!
Me:as I explained we use recordings of local bands showing off thier own stuff. Makes us seem like we care.
PRS:Prove it!
Me:You want a demo CD? will only charge you what it costs us!
PRS:What? no! prove its not licenced music!
Me:Why not come down and check us out, make sure its the shop though, this is the workshop, I play megadeath n shit here.....*click*

They never once dialed the right number.

"then it counts as a public performance and the store needs a license."
A very expensive license.
Fine, retailers, turn off the sound...

Congrats on making the world 'better' again, vampires.

Unkillable Cat:
The PRS is notorious for this. They will chase any and every business to try and sqeeze money out. I used to run a clothing boutique and had repeated arguments with them. The worst thing is, no matter how often they threatened they would never come down and check. Instead they would do random calls in the off-chance you had music on when they answered:

Me:Hello Violet Clothing workshop
PRS:This is the PRS you are shown as not having a licence.
Me:I dont need one, we only feature music from local artists in the shop, none of it is licenced
PRS:I can hear Megadeath in the background, thats licenced!
Me:Thats becuse you have called the workshop, this is where we make the clothing, the shop is on another number.
PRS:Bull, this is the number for Violet Clothing!
Me:No this is the workshop like I said, the shop is over five miles away, the number for them is ####### I am the only one in the workshop, I dont need a licence.
PRS:Well have your got one for the shop?
Me:Yes but not from you, I have music licence for the shop.
PRS:Thats illegal you need a performance licence!
Me:as I explained we use recordings of local bands showing off thier own stuff. Makes us seem like we care.
PRS:Prove it!
Me:You want a demo CD? will only charge you what it costs us!
PRS:What? no! prove its not licenced music!
Me:Why not come down and check us out, make sure its the shop though, this is the workshop, I play megadeath n shit here.....*click*

They never once dialed the right number.

Good job!
I've had very aggressively worded letters sent to me, just because my profession requires me to register as a business. Out of the blue, they go all "YOU are TOTALLY NOT PAYING for all the music you use!!!!111!!111! Pay NOW or we *insert BS threats*"... :O

They have quite a lot of nerve, in every country.

I wonder if this extends to trailers with licensed music in them too (i.e. Medal of Honour).

Also, "public performance" is a bit vague. If I were to stand in the middle of a shopping mall singing Cannibal Corpse songs would I get done for copyright infringement or public indecency?

The Plunk:
Also, "public performance" is a bit vague. If I were to stand in the middle of a shopping mall singing Cannibal Corpse songs would I get done for copyright infringement or public indecency?

You would be ignored, if it was good enough to qualify as a full on performance the Mall would be charged for not having a live music licence.

Talking to games retail staff they do seem very defensive about their business; they complain about Steam, they complain about HMV, they complain about CEX (specially games re-seller), even how DLC is cutting them out of the loop.

Gaming retail is not long for this world, you know the Publisher sell games to retailers at $30 per game who then sell on for $60 per game. Even then due to licensing Publishers only get $16 per game as income before even factoring development and marketing costs.

Retail stores are going to HAVE to adapt and offer a far more unique service.

wait... so if a dvd rental shop is playing a dvd in the shop, do they need a license for every song in its soundtrack?

Ah PRS strikes again... Fucking jobsworths!

They have a completely bullshit "law" stating that shops aren't even allowed to put on a radio incase somebody gets to -heaven forbid- listen to some free music.... From a radio station.... Which broadcasts music....FOR FREE!!!

If the record companies had such a big problem with people hearing music for free, they wouldn't bend over backwards paying out millions of pounds to get the latest shitty ndubz single played on radio sh1te every hour.

PRS doesn't even pay the artists that get heard. It just collects a fee to pay it's own staff and record labels with no regard to who was being played and how often etc...

Now they are just pissing people off, it's called "Ant Fucking" in Dutch and they need to just go away and leave those retailers alone.

So far I see it, if the consumer is interested in your shitty mainstream music, it might actual get more recognition or even get bought on iTunes or whatever.

Daemascus:
Shouldnt the music be covered by the license fee from the game makers? And what about arcade versons of the games?

hell, what about music that is played over loudspeakers at malls and ambiance at some stores?

this just sounds like someone wanting to be paid more for nothing.

Wait, if the game maker licensed the music to be in the game, and the retailer licensed the game to demo, doesn't the retailer have a limited license to play that music as part of the game demo, ipso facto?

This is a load of bullshit, and I'd ignore any C&D's. If they sue, try to get it thrown out on bad faith.

Treblaine:
Talking to games retail staff they do seem very defensive about their business; they complain about Steam, they complain about HMV, they complain about CEX (specially games re-seller), even how DLC is cutting them out of the loop.

Gaming retail is not long for this world, you know the Publisher sell games to retailers at $30 per game who then sell on for $60 per game. Even then due to licensing Publishers only get $16 per game as income before even factoring development and marketing costs.

Retail stores are going to HAVE to adapt and offer a far more unique service.

Well, I don't think retail stores are in that much trouble to be honest. At least not for a while. Things like "Project $10" and the like are the biggest hit to them, in general a lot of people still want physical copies of their games that aren't just "connect to steam" programs (which a lot of people are complaining about in increasing numbers). The whole digital thing benefits the companies, but not really the consumers. While they are trying to find ways of forcing the issue, I really think retail is just whining. My area (in the USA) has three Gamestops within a couple of miles, and a mall with two seperate ones in it. I just don't think game retail is in any major danger looking at that.

Raven's Nest:
Ah PRS strikes again... Fucking jobsworths!

They have a completely bullshit "law" stating that shops aren't even allowed to put on a radio incase somebody gets to -heaven forbid- listen to some free music.... From a radio station.... Which broadcasts music....FOR FREE!!!

If the record companies had such a big problem with people hearing music for free, they wouldn't bend over backwards paying out millions of pounds to get the latest shitty ndubz single played on radio sh1te every hour.

PRS doesn't even pay the artists that get heard. It just collects a fee to pay it's own staff and record labels with no regard to who was being played and how often etc...

From the way it sounds to me, the situation is a bit less straightforward than it sounds. It seems to me that the effort here is to harass "mom and pops" stores. Bigger chains have little to worry about, but still lose business to smaller, local businesses, and those that are still around are fairly resiliant. Moves like this tend to be indirectly tracked back to the bigger companies for whom such fees are trivial. This is probably why this kind of nickel and dime stuff doesn't make sense when viewed from the perspective of someone profiting off of it directly. The situation is probably that most of the sales come from the large stores and chains to begin with, and those stores are willing to pay money or offer benefits (such as even larger bulk purchuses of product than they normally make) in exchange for the music industry and the PRS engaging in some harassment of their competition.

I say this because while this exact thing has not happened in the USA, companies like WAL*MART and Target have been caught doing equally dubious things, in the mass media it falls under the general catagory of "predatory business practices", where you have to do a lot of digging to find out the specifics in a lot of cases. In many cases what they are doing isn't illegal, even if it's dirty, and in cases where something is illegal they have a tendency to just wind up paying a fine from the petty cash drawer, the damage having been done and well worth the cost in the final equasion. Hence why those chains get such a bad rap. What's more you'll find that a lot of people in our local and state goverments will cooperate with such chains in harassing their own citizens, because these large stores are good for the economy, a Wal*Mart will typically wind up employing a lot of local people, far more than small businesses (which might be owner or family operated exclusively) do. It might not be fair, but in the end when it comes down to the choice between employing 200 or more local people in many cases, and the operation of Billy Bob's local store, which is owned by operated by, and employs only one person: Billy Bob, the choice is pretty obvious. It doesn't hurt if the big businesses also wind up lining your pockets as well. ( an intentionally simplistic example )

I'll also say that I think this is one of the problems that comes from the UK having such strict anti-gun laws. While similar things happen in the US they don't get quite so overt or obnoxious with the copyright laws, because the people just generally won't stand for it. Yes, having a lot of armed citizens around causes a lot of deaths (OMG! Noes!) but at the same time it also means the goverment tends to be fairly careful about what it does which is the point. Not so much because of a threat of any kind of wide-scale revolution, but simply because when push comes to shove it's always some cop that winds up having to walk in there and enforce that law for it to matter at all. Cops do a job that is dangerous by it's nature, but there is an element to "is it worth it" to the equasion with an armed populance. The police do harass people, but not quite as bad as in a lot of other countries, and we also avoid a lot of more obnoxious laws because an American cop always knows that there is a chance the guy he is going to unfairly harass or shake down might decide to pull a gun. Even though the police are armed, this encourages a degree of restraint. This is why you generally don't see the police being used officially as muscle for business purposes. In the UK it's probably not hard to get the general consensus to make these laws, because in the end the police have little to fear if they have to wind up coming in to do something if people push back too hard. In the US on the other hand they have to weigh whether or not it's worth potnetially getting into a gunfight over. It's not just about the risk to the police either, I mean not a whole lot of people are going to like the idea of basically killing someone who resists being shaken down. A lot of cops don't do the job because they want to be thugs, no matter how it may look to citizens at times. What's more politicians look like idiots if they pass laws that wind up failing because the police refuse to enforce them. That does happen which leads to laws being removed, or simply never enforced, leading to a lot of those stupid "there is actually a law for this" discussions, involving obscure laws that few people ever heard of because some politician thought it was a good idea and the police more or less decided that they simply were not going to enforce it. This is what leads to some of the loophole stupidity in our legal system as well, when some lawyer brings up a really obscure piece of law that might not be enforced on the street, but can't be ignored when proven to be valid in a proceeding like a trial or whatever. It's not always bad either, I remember a list back when I was in criminal justice of "stupid laws used to hold criminals" that were pulled out to do things like prevent murderers and drug dealers from walking out, garbage like "the crime of chewing tobacco more than five feet away from a designated spittoon", BS, but enough to hold so they wouldn't walk away and disappeared. Of course the examples I read were intentionally loaded because the people involved were convicted after the fact despite the stupidity. I'm sure there are cases where it wasn't quite like that.

Therumancer:
... in general a lot of people still want physical copies of their games that aren't just "connect to steam" programs (which a lot of people are complaining about in increasing numbers). The whole digital thing benefits the companies, but not really the consumers....

Look if the publishers are getting so hurt by the retail system that they only get $16 of a $60 game and STILL have to spend assloads of cash on advertising, that hurt is going to be passed onto the consumers with them taking less risks and being more money-grubbing.

I also find Steam directly benefits the consumer with its many generous Steam Sales, these are the BEST ways to buy games in terms of lowest price and reliability. Though at the same time I appreciate and sometimes use the "activate on steam" (Buy game in retail, use Disc Key to get a steam version).

I haven't missed physical copies and I've been gaming since the N64 era, plastic mementos are nice and all but really only one thing matters; the game. And that's just a series of 1's and 0's that can be downloaded and transferred wherever you like.

SilentHunter7:
Wait, if the game maker licensed the music to be in the game, and the retailer licensed the game to demo, doesn't the retailer have a limited license to play that music as part of the game demo, ipso facto?

This is a load of bullshit, and I'd ignore any C&D's. If they sue, try to get it thrown out on bad faith.

You can take it even further and say that they need to make sure everyone in the store doesn't own a copy of that song, otherwise the consumers shopping there already own the right to listen to the music and the store therefore does not have to pay because people are hearing a song they already paid to be able to listen to.

OT: Just another way IP licensing is ruining the world. They bully the store because consumers themselves would laugh in their face. Also, who is to say these people represent the things they say they represent. It sounds to me that they can only say that about music that is in games and also on the radio, so if they demo games that aren't music and rhythm games with licensed music, would there be a problem with that (i.e. The Gears of War Soundtrack)? The upside seems to be is they caught up with that particular genre of game on the back end, since the popularity of those games are way down.

This is very similar to getting permits to improve your home. The state comes in and says you need permits for X,Y, and Z. You get them, pay exorbitant fees to get them, and the inspector comes along and either passes you or fails you. The kicker is, these guys don't know shit about shit and wouldn't know the first thing about home improvement, so they pass you or fail you what is a whim.

Yeah these PRS people suck, my mother runs a crafts stall, not a shop, a stall, in a market, and they wanted her to get a license to play the radio, but hadn't gone to any other stall owners. Needless to say she told them to go jam it, and they haven't been heard from for months now.
If these people were school bullies they wouldn't get very far, just walk up to you and ask for your lunch money, politely, and then leave without incident when you tell them to bugger off.

This shows how retarded these license laws are, so showing a demo with all it's content is ok yet somehow music has a devine seal that makes it exempt?!
The publisher already payed you for that music and it's distribution now you want to charge again?

How long before we haveto pay an extra fee for games with licensed music....

Treblaine:
Talking to games retail staff they do seem very defensive about their business; they complain about Steam, they complain about HMV, they complain about CEX (specially games re-seller), even how DLC is cutting them out of the loop.

Gaming retail is not long for this world, you know the Publisher sell games to retailers at $30 per game who then sell on for $60 per game. Even then due to licensing Publishers only get $16 per game as income before even factoring development and marketing costs.

Retail stores are going to HAVE to adapt and offer a far more unique service.

On the other hand ANYTHING that forces CEX to at least TURN THE MUSIC DOWN would be a bonus. When I go shopping I don't like the in-store music to be turned up to 11.

But why aren't the shops' existing licenses enough to cover music from consoles as well?

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