Hairdresser hit with £1,500 bill

Neil Hull had bought a Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence... however, the relatively unknown Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) took him to court because, unbeknown to Neil, he needed a licence from IT, too
Neil Hull had bought a Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence... however, the relatively unknown Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) took him to court because, unbeknown to Neil, he needed a licence from IT, too
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A hairdresser has been hit with a £1,500 bill for having a radio on while giving customers a trim.

A High Court judge banned the House of Hair and Beauty in Friargate, Preston, from playing music after a copyright body went to court over a licence issue.

Manager Neil Hull had bought a music licence from music royalties body, the Performing Rights Society (PRS), which he believed allowed him to play pop music in public.

However, a SECOND royalties collector, the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), told a court that he needed a further music licence from IT to put the radio or CDs on.

Unbeknown to Neil, the PRS licence only covers the copyright for songwriters, while the PPL licence covers copyright for performers and record companies.

An inspector called at House of Hair and Beauty in June last year and heard tracks by groups including Kasabian, the Black Eyed Peas and Kaiser Chiefs being played on a radio.

The PPL took court action against the salon after sending warning letters. Neil has now been left with a legal costs bill of £1,569. A letter sent by PPL’s solicitors warns that he could be in contempt of court if he breaks the ban on music.

Neil, who did not attend the court hearing in London, said he had not even heard of PPL before the incident.

He said: “We have got a PRS licence. They said this is not PRS, it’s someone else. It’s like paying for everything twice. At the end of the day, they can charge whatever they want. We have no say in it.”

Lancashire police also fell foul of music copyright laws last year when they became locked in a legal wrangle with the PRS over using radios in police stations.

The PRS applied for an injunction against Chief Constable Steve Finnigan to ban the force playing music and wanted to claim damages for copyright infringement.

However, the force paid for a licence before the case reached the High Court.

Chris Rigby, the owner of Preston Model Centre in Ashton, was also threatened with legal action by the PRS in 2008 when he had a radio on in the background of his shop, where he employs just two other staff.

Mr Rigby said: “I have never heard of PPL. This sounds like another group of people who are there to take money off Joe Public. It’s like jobs for the boys.”

Both PRS and PPL licences cost in the region of £200, depending on how many people will listen to the music played.

Money collected goes towards songwriters, artists and record companies.

A PPL spokesman said: “It is a legal requirement for any business that plays recorded music in public to have a PPL licence. PPL takes infringement of its members’ copyright very seriously and we will take the necessary action to protect our members’ rights.

“PPL is separate from PRS for Music, which collects a licence fee on behalf of composers and music publishers.”