PRS for Music & PPL Licenses

PRS for Music (formerly the Performing Rights Society) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) are separate organisations who license different sets of rights in the use of music in public performances.

PRS for Music collects and distributes fees for the use of musical compositions on behalf of songwriters, composers and music publishers.

PPL collects and distributes fees for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers.

The extract below is taken from Music in Public Copyright Briefing paper to the House of Commons...

Music in public: copyright licensing
Standard Note:SN/HA/4899
Last updated:14 March 2013
Author:John Woodhouse and Grahame Danby
Section:Home Affairs

"Numerous decisions have related to the expression "in public" in the context of performances: is important to consider whether the performance is likely to injure the owner of the copyright in the sense that some of the audience might be willing to pay to see or hear such a performance, and whether the demand for the author's work might otherwise be diminished. Thus if the person responsible for the performance would be likely to pay for a licence rather than have such performance stopped, then clearly the copyright owner will suffer by an unlicensed performance...

Among the examples of cases in which performances have been regarded as having taken place in public are the following: the playing of gramophone records and the radio over loudspeakers to workers at a factory during working hours... the playing of a radio in a private room of a public house, but which could be heard in the adjoining public bar; the playing of a radio in a private room adjoining a restaurant, but which could be heard in the restaurant, the principle being that the performance took place wherever it could be heard

More generally, there is legal recognition that the chief guide in determining whether a performance is public or not should be "common sense".

Our advice notes for Shropshire Tourism members are:

Self catering cottages are a domestic environment. If you are a B&B you are also mainly a 'domestic environment' as distinct from a commercial environment, providing you are not playing music in the 'public' areas of your B&B. N.B. if you are listening to your own radio (covered by the TV license) whilst in your kitchen doing breakfasts this is not classed as 'public!'

However, if your staff listen to music, you will need a license.

Your TV license covers the use of TVs in bedrooms/lounges and radios. Some premises may require special TV licenses due to the number of bedrooms but in most instances a single license is sufficient. More information on this can be obtained from the TV Licensing body.

You do need a PRS license if you are playing music from artists' recordings that are 50 years or less in a public bar, a public restaurant/dining room, a public lounge, a public reception area or other public venue.

Finally do not be intimidated - if in doubt, call us on 01743 261919.

PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited)

A few of our B&B members have been in touch following correspondence and phone calls with PPL, regarding the supposed need to have a PPL licence if alarm clock radios are present in their accommodation.

Shropshire Tourism's view: Clearly an alarm radio that cannot be heard by 'the public' in adjacent public rooms is not a public performance and therefore no licence is required. As far as playing a radio which can be heard in an adjoining room, the B&B operator has to ask themselves the question - 'would they be likely to pay for a license rather than have the music stopped?' if they would prefer to have the music stopped then no loss would be suffered by the copyright owner so this would not be a public performance subject to copyright.

As the parliamentary paper says - apply "common sense". A public performance needs multiple listeners/viewers to be public and the copyright owner must suffer a loss through such a performance. Finally, a quartz alarm clock is infinitely cheaper than the licence fee - so don't get bullied into paying for radio alarms - simply replace them!

If you have any queries please contact Shropshire Tourism, Tel: 01743 261919 or email