Lancashire Police accused of piracy

June 17, 2008 | 08:06

Tags: #licence #music #performing-rights-society #piracy #police #prs #sharing

Companies: #high-court

Police in Lancashire have found themselves the target of a music sharing lawsuit – for having the radio playing too loud in their stations.

According to This Is Lancashire (via pro-file-sharing site TorrentFreak) Chief Constable Steve Finnigan has called down the wrath of the Performing Rights Society for having the temerity to allow his officers to listen to the radio while at work without being in possession of a valid PRS licence.

The Performing Rights Society is perhaps best known for licensing pubs and clubs, given them the right to play music for the public to listen to while getting 'merry' on overpriced alcohol. What isn't quite so well known – but something the PRS is keen to point out to infringers – is that listening to music anywhere outside the home requires a licence if more than one person is capable of hearing it. Yes, even if you're just walking down the street whistling: that's a 'performance', apparently.

The PRS has duly served writ in the High Court seeking an injunction that would silence the radios at the force's thirty-four stations unless a licence is procured for each, alongside a request for monetary damages due to the infringement of represented artists' copyright.

While it may seem both petty and a trifle short-sighted – the police are often your best ally when raiding those naughty file sharers, after all – the Lancashire Constabulary can't claim ignorance in this matter: having already applied for a licence for their headquarters in 1984 and again for their mounted branch in 2006 it's clear that at least some officers were aware of the legal requirements when playing music at work.

While I'm all for ensuring that artists are properly compensated for their work, I can't help but feel the PRS might be biting off more than they can chew antagonising the police – even if they are, technically, in the right.

Do you believe that the Lancashire police are simply trying to dodge their legal obligations, or is it ridiculous that you need a public performance licence in order to listen to the radio where others might hear you? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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