Small firms make big noise on fee collector tactics

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HERTFORDSHIRE small businesses have called for so-called ‘collecting societies’ to take a softer line against them.

It is against the law for radios to be played in offices, shops, pubs, takeaways or other workplaces without being licensed, a fact that takes some by surprise.

Pam Charman, the chairman of Herts Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “The FSB has long been concerned that some collecting societies are threatening small firms with action simply because they may, for example, play music in their business when they are entirely unaware that they may need multiple licences to do so.

“Our figures show that collecting societies are not treating small businesses fairly.

“Introducing a robust code of practice, backed up by a statutory code, would help to guarantee a fairer deal for small businesses, and help prevent the collecting societies from acting aggressively. ”

An FSB survey of its members found the issue to be a major bugbear.

Barney Hooper of PRS for Music said: “Businesses that choose to use music receive a clear benefit from doing so, including increased staff morale, improved customer experience and enhanced atmosphere for retailers especially.

“It is only right that those who have created that music should earn modest royalties when others receive the benefit it brings.

He added: “Writers do not get paid to create the music, only when that music is used.”