Company sued in Scotland for listening to radio

(via BBC) Tyre and brake fitters Kwik-Fit have been sued in Edinburgh by the UK’s Performing Rights Society. The subject of the action is the fact that according to the plaintiffs, Kwik-Fit employers have been playing their radios loudly, where it can be heard by other employees and customers. This is a public performance, and therefore subject to licence fee payment to the PRS (see a list of prices for shop owners here).

While the case is on its early stages, the Court of Session has issued a ruling denying a plea by the defendants to dismiss the case as irrelevant. Lord Emslie took the claim of copyright infringement seriously enough, and commented that:

“For the purposes of this debate, neither party saw fit to address me on the law as to what might properly amount to the public playing or performance of copyright works. Both maintained that difficult questions of fact and degree might arise in that area, depending on how the evidence turned out at any proof, and that there was thus little to be gained by considering such issues in any detail at the present time. At one point during his submissions, however, I understood counsel for the defenders to accept, in broad terms, that if copyright music was audibly performed to members of the public or to workers as a group that could well constitute infringement.”

The PRS has produced recorded evidence starting in 2005 of pervasive and constant radio listening in Kwik-Fit garages across the country, loud enough that the music could be *gasp* heard by the customers. The public has heard music blaring from a commercial enterprise, someone must pay! I would laugh if it was funny, but I reckon PRS are going to win this one, it all comes down to volume levels, et cetera.

I’m curious as to why the action has been brought in Scotland and not in England. Could it be that Scottish courts are perceived as being more IP-friendly?

Comments 3

  1. Ah well, this was at least a semi-public use of the music. Here in Sweden, hospitals have to pay to the collecting societies if the hospital provides radios to patients. After all, the patients could potentially listen to broadcast music. And if the hostpitals didn't pay, the CS would only be paid once for that experience (radio stations pay to broadcast, of course)!

  2. One assums the reported violation occurred in a Scotish Kwik-Fit?Or possible their registered HQ is in Scotland – I think they are owned by Tom Farmer (who is a Scot) no? I like the comment seen elswewhre that they wish the PRS would sue people who play music loudly on trains!! 🙂

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