from PRS for 100 off30 second music clips
Good links: http://www.napster.com/
I have been running a small hobby
site in the United Kingdom that was largely
dependent upon using music clips in a historic
context, i.e. as part of a virtual museum. The
site is totally non-commercial.
generally received an average of about 1000 page
hits a day [January 2001]. The music clips were
not easily downloadable since they were presented
as "streaming" files, and the music was
recorded at a low bit rate thereby making the
music of little interest for serious listening.
I have recently come under sustained
attack from the PRS and MCPS in the UK and have
decided to remove all music files from my site to
avoid copyright infringement of musical works.
It appears from initial quotations
that annual licences for a relatively small
number of 30 second music clips could be priced
at in excess of £881. Clearly, this is
unreasonable and not affordable for a hobby site.
In the meantime, I have been approached by
mainstream music retailers who wish to exploit
"pirate" websites, and are prepared to
pay cash for referrals. So we seem to have a
music industry in the UK that is a little
perverse in its inconsistent approach. In these
circumstances, I have withdrawn all music files
from the server upon which www.sterlingtimes.co.uk is housed.
I am continuing to point to music files on third
party sites. Despite a decline in site hits since
the silencing of my site, the overall support
from Stephen Lewis to various interested parties
- 20 June 2000
last, I have some interesting answers to my
questions addressed to the MCPS.
appear that it is necessary to obtain permissions
and/or licences from three sources to use music
on the Internet:
The MCPS for musical composition
Permission from record companies directly for use
of sound recordings (I was unsure from the
licence terms whether clips did not need such
permissions but I will seek further advice).
The PRS for performance.
hobby site, this is a virtual impossibility given
the expense and the overall complexity. I
calculate the annual licence price alone to be £750
(ex VAT, if VAT is charged). It is unclear how
record companies would respond.
use of music and lyrics is affected by this
ruling. Any radio recording incorporating
licensable music would also be subject to these
nearly all British hobby sites incorporating TV,
radio and music material are likely to be illegal
and are liable to closure.
reproduce below my most recent questions
addressed to the MCPS with todays answers.
have had to have a re-think about http://www.sterlingtimes.co.uk/
and I have removed all of the music from my
server. I am still linking to music elsewhere on
the web given that I am not copying or
broadcasting, however, I rather feel that that
also will be attacked.
looks like the end of a good thing.
really cant imagine why I have been so
Do I need a UK licence because the server that I
use is in the UK, or because I am in the UK?
you are based/have economic residence in the UK.
2. If I use a USA-based or other foreign-based
server, can you still grant me a licence?
location of your server is irrelevant. It is
where your economic residence is.
3. Would I be free from allegations of
infringement in the USA if I were correctly
licensed through you?
MCPS issues licences on behalf of its composer
members for the use of their compositions. You
would need to clear the use of the relevant sound
recordings with the record companies directly.
You would also need a PRS licence for the public
performance of their members works.
4. I stated in the application form that I
nominally wanted 1000 clips, but is there a
cheaper licence for fewer than 1000 clips. £250
seems to be quite expensive for a hobby site. Is
there any form of cheaper licence?
are issued quarterly, so we would invoice you for
£62.50 per quarter. You would not have to pay
the £250 in one go.
I have not been able to get a reply from the PRS.
Could you give me an indication as to how much
the PRS would charge?
not. You need to contact Lisa Feltham @ PRS on
020 7306 4261 to find the details of their
Are other such hobby site in the UK correctly
this type of query a lot and I can't stress this
strongly enough. If you use the music without a
licence, you are in infringement of copyright and
run the risk of legal action being taken against
you and your site can be shut down. We have
issued licences for other such hobby sites
although I can not disclose which ones or how
intention is to run a hobby site on a completely
non-commercial basis. I wish to use largely
historic clips of very old music to enhance the
music-related material in my site. The music that
I intend to use is of little commercial interest
today, however, visitors may wish to buy your
members' music from specialist record suppliers.
Stephen Lewis reply to MCPS 27 June
It is with great sadness that I have
deleted all of the music files from my two
related websites www.sterlingtimes.co.uk and www.sterlingtimes.org
I am double checking webspace that I
have used elsewhere in the past. I will recheck
over the next couple of days that no fragments
These were all vintage clips of
little commercial value.
My combined quotation for annual
licences from the MCPS/PRS for around about 150
clips 30 second clips was £881 including VAT.
Clearly, this is not affordable for hobbyist, and
the administrative burden acts as a further
Whereas I know that you are legally
very correct in what you are doing, the recent
sustained wave of attacks on non-commercial hobby
site is very destructive and is serving to remove
a very important historic knowledge base from the
Internet. Sensible and affordable licensing
arrangement would have served the Internet
community and the music industry far better.
Notwithstanding my strong views on
this matter, you have my assurance that I will
carry no music files on my site.
Kind regards - Stephen Lewis
From: Protheroe, David [mailto:David.Protheroe@mcps.co.uk]
Sent: 27 June 2000 18:50
Subject: FW: MCPS online licensing
> I am doing a chase up e-mail to
all the people I have sent online
> licensing literature to over
the past few months. Can you let me know
> by return e-mail the following
> 1. Are you using music on your
own or related party website.
> 2. the URL/address of any such
> 3. How the music is being used.
> If you have decided to not use
music on your site, could you please
> confirm this to me by return e-mail.
> Thank you for your time.
Sent: 10 May 2000 17:04
Subject: PRS Licence
> Dear Sir,
> PRS Licence
> On your website www.sterlingtimes.co.uk,
there are audio files.
> Should your website have available, in
whatever format and however
> accessed, copyright music a PRS licence will
> PRS represents authors, composers and
publishers of musical works and
> licences certain copyrights in those works
on our members' behalf, which
> will include the use of these works on your
> It is important to regularise the situation
by applying for a PRS licence.
> I therefore have attached a copy of the PRS
Online Licence Application
> Form, which I would ask you to complete and
return to me. This will
> enable me to calculate the PRS royalty.
> Should you have any questions regarding our
licence, please do not
> hesitate to contact my PA Lisa (Tel: 020
7306 4261) or myself (Tel: 020
> 7306 4260, fax: 020 7306 4499, e-mail email@example.com).
> If your website is using copyright music you
may also require a licence
> from The Mechanical Copyright Protection
Society (MCPS - contact Dave
> Protheroe 020 7306 4530) and/or Phonographic
Performance Limited (PPL -
> contact Mary Carr 020 7534 1000).
> I look forward to hearing from you.
> Yours faithfully,
> Mike Palmer
> Head of Broadcasting
Sent: 15 February 2000 15:11
> The Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society
Ltd (MCPS) is an organisation
> that represents thousands of songwriters,
composers and music publishers.
> Acting on behalf of our members, MCPS
negotiates agreements with those who
> wish to record music and ensures that the
copyright owners are paid for
> the use of their music. The society collects
and then distributes the
> mechanical royalties which are generated by
the recording of music onto
> many different formats including CD,
cassette, vinyl, video, multimedia,
> audio-visual and broadcast programmes.
> The use of copyright music on the Internet
is no different to the use of
> in any other medium or format. All the
rights must be licensed
> including clips of any length and music on
sites of any type from home
> to large corporate sites.
> What kinds of music can I licence?
> MCPS licenses two types of music, Production
Music and Commercial Music.
> Production Music - often referred to as
Library Music is music
> specifically written for inclusion in audio
and audio-visual productions,
> such as advertisements, broadcast programmes,
film and video productions.
> It is licensed according to simple
procedures with no pre-clearance
> formalities and at cost effective rates
published in the MCPS rate card.
> Licences issued by MCPS cover the right to
reproduce the musical work,
> sound recording and artist performance. If
you would like further
> information on production music and a copy
of the rate card, please
> contact Media Licensing on 0171 306 4500 or
> Commercial music can loosely be defined as
music which is made available
> for sale to members of the general public
for their listening pleasure,
> usually on retail CDs, casette's, etc.
Licences issued by MCPS only cover
> the right to reproduce the musical work.
> More information and application forms is
> <<Intro.doc>> <<Online
Download letter.doc>> <<Online
> Application form.doc>>
> If you have any queries, please contact
David Protheroe on 020 7306 4500
> or firstname.lastname@example.org