Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is that a Radio under your kilt?

In the United States, the battle over licensing of public performances of music played via radio broadcasts in businesses open to the public reached the Supreme Court in Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151 (1975), and the following year when Congress dealt with the issue in Section 110(5) of the Copyright Act, exempting use of a single receiving apparatus commonly found in private homes. In 1998, Section 110(5) was amended again to provide numerical guidelines for certain establishments, but that amendment was found by a GATT panel to violate the TRIPS Agreement. The section remains and the U.S. paid a fine.

The issue is now being brought to the fore in Scotland in a dispute between the Performing Rights Society and a Scots car repair chain called Kwik-Fit.

The BBC reports that

At a procedural hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh a judge refused to dismiss the £200,000 damages claim. Kwik-Fit wanted the case brought against it thrown out. Lord Emslie ruled that the action can go ahead with evidence being heard. The PRS claimed that Kwik-Fit mechanics routinely use personal radios while working at service centres across the UK and that music, protected by copyright, could be heard by colleagues and customers. It is maintained that amounts to the "playing" or "performance" of the music in public and renders the firm guilty of infringing copyright.

Here is a link to the full story about the matter.

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