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HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?

The Shambles 11 Dec 00 - 07:07 PM
Dave Wynn 11 Dec 00 - 07:24 PM
Geoff the Duck 11 Dec 00 - 08:09 PM
Catrin 11 Dec 00 - 08:34 PM
The Shambles 12 Dec 00 - 02:18 AM
GUEST,CraigS 12 Dec 00 - 02:37 AM
Steve Parkes 12 Dec 00 - 03:22 AM
GUEST 12 Dec 00 - 04:15 AM
manitas_at_work 12 Dec 00 - 08:06 AM
Long Firm Freddie (at work) 12 Dec 00 - 08:12 AM
SueH 12 Dec 00 - 08:26 AM
The Shambles 31 Dec 00 - 08:26 AM
Jon Freeman 31 Dec 00 - 09:05 AM
Bernard 31 Dec 00 - 04:09 PM
The Shambles 31 Dec 00 - 08:14 PM
vindelis 31 Dec 00 - 08:43 PM
The Shambles 01 Jan 01 - 07:19 AM
selby 01 Jan 01 - 09:09 AM
Bernard 01 Jan 01 - 05:51 PM
Richard Bridge 01 Jan 01 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,John Hil 02 Jan 01 - 07:45 AM
The Shambles 02 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM
The Shambles 02 Jan 01 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,John Hill 02 Jan 01 - 12:48 PM
Bernard 02 Jan 01 - 02:19 PM
Jon Freeman 02 Jan 01 - 04:36 PM
The Shambles 02 Jan 01 - 05:14 PM
Jon Freeman 02 Jan 01 - 05:36 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Jan 01 - 05:41 PM
Jon Freeman 02 Jan 01 - 06:06 PM
The Shambles 02 Jan 01 - 06:44 PM
The Shambles 03 Jan 01 - 04:49 PM
GUEST,Andy Wall 03 Jan 01 - 07:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jan 01 - 07:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jan 01 - 07:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jan 01 - 08:02 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jan 01 - 08:57 PM
The Shambles 04 Jan 01 - 02:17 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Jan 01 - 09:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Jan 01 - 03:50 PM
The Shambles 05 Jan 01 - 08:47 PM
The Shambles 06 Jan 01 - 07:17 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Jan 01 - 10:57 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Jan 01 - 03:38 PM
Jon Freeman 06 Jan 01 - 04:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Jan 01 - 04:27 PM
The Shambles 06 Jan 01 - 04:38 PM
Jon Freeman 06 Jan 01 - 04:38 PM
The Shambles 06 Jan 01 - 04:57 PM
Richard Bridge 06 Jan 01 - 06:00 PM
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Subject: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 07:07 PM

Does anyone know the licencing situation of customers making their own (unpaid) music in UK pubs?

Do you need a licence for a pub session?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 07:24 PM

We heard that providing only one musician and one singer no problem (to accomodate the Pub Piano days) but it's apocryphal. The other route is to use a segregated room (so it a private party)...needs checking though I am not a lawyer (have to be a shark not a dog to be a lawyer). Spot


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 08:09 PM

I think that a pub has to be licensed for music and entertainment.
I am sure that I could provide expert witnesses who would be prepared to stand up in any court in the land and testify that folk music is neither!!!!!!!!!
GtD


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Catrin
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 08:34 PM

Shambles - the uk is full of people making music in pubs without a license. I have just been to a place where they have a singaround one night, a session the next...

I don't know about official 'laws' - I just know it happens (without 'license') all over the place.

Cheers,

Catrin


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 02:18 AM

It seems to be OK for the two people playing at one time sort of thing. When there are more players than this, the letter of the law is being used, as in this case, by someone complaining to the local authority and that does appear to be the law, if invoked?

"If the law believes that then the law is an ass".

If it is the law, can anyone suggest a way around it? Like more info on the private party idea. Would the entire pub have to be closed for this or will just one room do?

What a bloody country.........


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 02:37 AM

Any public place (including village halls,etc) needs to be licenced for Music and Dancing if more than three people are singing at any one time - for a pub it's only a small addition to the licence to sell alcohol, and not very expensive, so if you're worried for your session's legality have a collection to pay for the extra licence and give the money to the landlord.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 03:22 AM

You need a licence to operaste a jukebox in a pub. Is that the same thing, or is that just to keep the MRCPS away?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 04:15 AM

I was involved with a folk club a few years ago that used to meet in a amateur dramatic theatre (which did not have an MCPS licence). Somehow MCPS found out and sent the theatre a bill for their estimated annual fee (their estimate was far more than we could afford). I wrote to MCPS explaining that we were a traditional folk club performing traditional unlicenced songs and I gave them a few examples. They wrote back to me claiming that some of the songs I had listed had been covered and although the author could not be traced we may be using the arrangement (they claimed that the Pogues and U2 had recorded songs with the names I had given). If it wasn't serious it is funny to think that they think an unaccompanied singer may be trying to sound like U2 !!

Now this really annoys me, that we have to give money to these bands so that we can perform traditional songs in public when they probably learnt the songs from people such as us in the first place. After a number of phone calls I eventually managed to negotiate the fee down to a level that we could afford to pay (we did consider moving the club but there was no other suitable venue). Unfortunately MCPS have the law on their side once they find you, so my advice is don't get caught and if you speak to MCPS don't mention that there is a public bar anywhere near where you are performing.

Ian


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 08:06 AM

I seem to recall that associate membership of EFDSS cured all problems with the PRS. MCPS shouldn't come into it with live music.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Long Firm Freddie (at work)
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 08:12 AM

This is how one local authority sees it:

click here

LFF


Link fixed - JoeClone


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: SueH
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 08:26 AM

You need a public entertainments licence if more than 2 people are going to perform, paid or unpaid. Pubs have to apply for these just as any other venue does.
I believe changes in the conditions for public entertainment are being considered. Ely Folk Club has just closed after 10 years, because they have had to move velkues several times over the past few years & have not managed to find anywhere appropriate.
One of the biggest problems seems to be that local councils are at liberty to interpret the law as they wish, & also to determine their own scale of charges - although I believe that the charges are only supposed to cover costs, not make a profit - and in some cases the charges are prohibitive.
SueH


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 08:26 AM

It would seem that it is a matter of interpretation. Some sensible councils, see it as participation. For others if two fiddles are playing badly, it is not entertainment. If three fiddles are playing badly, it is entertainment and then needs a licence?

The problem for publicans is that in order to obtain the licence, an inspection has to be made. This could involve expensive improvements. The irony being that on nights when there are no entertainments, the place could squeeze in as many folk as they want, without any inprovements, whether this was safe or not.

Not a very satisfactory state of afairs.......


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 09:05 AM

Shambles, in answer to your original question: Just try it and see what happens. It seems that some parts of the UK are a lot less flexible than others on this law.

I was in Norwich last week and I gathered that sessions are moving from pub to pub and are pretty well being driven underground because of the situation over there.

I do not know what the reasoning behind this law is but it seems ridiculous to me. I have never known a group of folk players get drunk and start fights in a pub...

Jon


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Bernard
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 04:09 PM

The one thing to remember is it is policed by complaint.

If nobody complains, then nobody is prosecuted.

Obviously it is a bit risky, but in my experience nobody is prosecuted on the first complaint, anyway - the Police visit the licensee and explain that 'a complaint has been made, so please toe the line...'

My 'experience' goes back over thirty years, during which time nobody was prosecuted, although three licensees were given friendly warnings.

There was an exception, however - one pub had a next door neighbour with a grudge, and the Environmental Health department were called in to take audio level readings. Although it never came to a prosecution, the ill feeling killed off the sessions.

Hope that helps...


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 08:14 PM

I think that is the point exactly. Ill feeling exists, for example, from a nearby licenced pub. They feel upset that they are paying for a licence and complain. This law is then used, completly wrongly in my opinion and creates even more bad feeling. The local authority should make a distinction between paid entertainment and participation.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: vindelis
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 08:43 PM

What happened prior to 1982? As this appears to be when the current law came in to being. It does seem the sort of thing that Oliver Cromwell would have had a hand in.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 07:19 AM

The interpretation of a number of musicians playing informally in a pub as the pub providing public entertainment, and thus requiring a licence, poses a number of questions.

If a pub provides a dart board or a pool table, does that mean that an entertainment licence is required, especially in the cases where teams of players visit for competitions? An audience may be attracted but in essence the entertainment is provided by and for the participants. Is this not exactly the same as a session?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: selby
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 09:09 AM

Although I havn't got an answer a folk club I was involved with was asked to leave by a landlord as we where breaking performing rights law's. He had recieved a letter on headed note paper demanding a fee as they had got hold of our publicity. He gave them my name and address as the organiser and I spent some weeks worrying as it was a lot of money, in the end I heard nothing Keith


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Bernard
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 05:51 PM

The PRS have no jurisdiction over folk clubs.

Sounds as if the Landlord in question just wanted his room back - they can be devious swines!!

Either that, or he had a jukebox he wasn't paying his whack for!


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 06:11 PM

I am a copyright lawyer, but this is not solicitor-client advice (for that, there are fees, and what our law society calls a "client care" letter (translation, contractual terms of business)).

THere are two issues. THe first is that of a public perfomance licence, and the law is correctly set out on the Dudley webiste at the link given above.

THe second is the PRS - the performing right in the music, administered by the performing right society. perfomring the music in public is an act restricted by copyright, and don't bother trying to be clever about "public". THe premises need a PRS licence, because most stuff done in folk clubs is NOT public domain. THey probably have one to cover the juke box anyway, but check.

If in doubt, get someone else from a different area to teplephone the PRS and tell them they are thinking of starting a folk club and ask for advice.

If still in doubt get a member of the musicians' union to ring the MU and say he's been offered a gig at a folk club and ask whether he has a PRS problem if he does a cover of another composer's music.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: GUEST,John Hil
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 07:45 AM

i know this is side tracking a bit ... but does anyone know if you need any sort of licence to play a radio in a shop?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM

This is the law as set out in the Dudley website, linked above.

"An entertainments licence is required for any public dancing or music or any other, similar public entertainment. An entertainments licence is also required for an entertainment consisting of and including any public contest, exhibition or display of boxing, wrestling, judo, karate or any similar sport.

The common definition of a public entertainment is one which involves one or more of the above activities, is publicly advertised and where a fee is charged either before the event or on entry.

There are exemptions for these requirements, which broadly speaking are as follows:- If the music is merely incidental at functions such as garden fetes, bazaars and sporting events or in the case of boxing, wrestling and karate, if the event is held in a pleasure fair. Similarly, if the premises are liquor licensed, then under that licence, it is permissible to have up to two performers playing live music or singing but not dancing. In the case of "karaoke" evenings, unless it can be guaranteed that no more than two people will be performing including the D.J. and that there will be no dancing, a public entertainments licence will be necessary".

Does not the section that I have printed in bold specify the common definition of a public entertainment? So if a session is not publicly advertised or no fee is given or charged (and providing of course that nobody dances), by this definition the session is not a public entertainment? Therefore does not need a licence?

Or is that a too simple reading of it?

What would be the process the local council would have to go through, assuming that they wanted to pursue the matter, if a landlord continued with a session without an entertainment licence? Would they have to prove that the session was a public entertainment? Has this definition ever been tested in court?

The question I keep asking myself is what or whose interests and welfare are supposed to be being protected by stretching this interpretation of this law to cover sessions? Maybe Oliver Cromwell would indeed be the one to ask?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 09:20 AM

This is the law as set out in the Dudley website, linked above.

An entertainments licence is required for any public dancing or music or any other, similar public entertainment. An entertainments licence is also required for an entertainment consisting of and including any public contest, exhibition or display of boxing, wrestling, judo, karate or any similar sport.

The common definition of a public entertainment is one which involves one or more of the above activities, is publicly advertised and where a fee is charged either before the event or on entry.

There are exemptions for these requirements, which broadly speaking are as follows:- If the music is merely incidental at functions such as garden fetes, bazaars and sporting events or in the case of boxing, wrestling and karate, if the event is held in a pleasure fair. Similarly, if the premises are liquor licensed, then under that licence, it is permissible to have up to two performers playing live music or singing but not dancing. In the case of "karaoke" evenings, unless it can be guaranteed that no more than two people will be performing including the D.J. and that there will be no dancing, a public entertainments licence will be necessary.

Does not the section that I have printed in bold specify the common definition of a public entertainment? So if a session is not publicly advertised or no fee is given or charged (and providing of course that nobody dances), by this definition the session is not a public entertainment? Therefore does not need a licence?

Or is that a too simple reading of it?

What would be the process the local council would have to go through, assuming that they wanted to pursue the matter, if a landlord continued with a session without an entertainment licence? Would they have to prove that the session was a public entertainment? Has this definition ever been tested in court?

The question I keep asking myself is what or whose interests and welfare are supposed to be being protected by stretching this interpretation of this law to cover sessions? Maybe Oliver Cromwell would indeed be the one to ask?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: GUEST,John Hill
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 12:48 PM

Where does that leave the situation of a radio in a shop. Is it public entertainment?... no fee is charged on entry.. nor are there any performers. I assist in a charity shop sometimes.. and someone said a licence is required to play the radio. (they have Classic FM on). Is that true?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Bernard
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 02:19 PM

Legally speaking, you require a licence to play a radio in a shop irrespective of what is playing. The same applies to any form of 'Background Music' system, whether music is playing or not.

The PRS calculate the licence fee by means of the hours of playing time per day and the average audience.

However, if the radio is in the upstairs flat for the benefit of the occupant of the flat, but it can be heard in the shop...!!

Charities are not exempt from licencing, but this opens up a moral dilemma. If a charity is paying a licence fee, then the money being collected is, in part, not going to the charity at all.

It is arguable that all overheads have to be met, and this is the dilemma. Which overheads are morally acceptable, and which are not?

Rent, gas, electricity, water, telephone, stationery, staff wages, PRS/MCPS licence - where do you stop?

The difficulty comes from 'Who benefits most from licence fees?'. Sadly, it is not the artiste, nor the composer! No, the people who are being 'protected' receive very little 'Royalties' compared with what is actually collected!

Without actual figures to back this up, I'd better say no more - however, I'm sure someone else can oblige!!


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 04:36 PM

Subject: UK Music Licencing problem
From: GeorgeH
Date: 02-Jan-01 - 02:16 PM

The real thread under this title seems broken (well, I can't get beyond about the 6th message so I can't post to it).

The enquirer needs to look at the recent discussion of this on uk.music.folk, which includes the 'best' statement of the law you are likely to find.

However at the end of the day the matter is between the Licensing Authority and the Publican (or owner/manager) of the venue . . If you can't persuade the Authority that your use is within the law then the Publican is unlikely to risk prosecution on your behalf . .

And no, the "members only" ruse doesn't always work . . Nor does any other one.

Ask Ruth Bramley of Ely Folk Club about this one . . but only if you're prepared to buy her several large drinks afterwards . .

G.


Thread fixed and post transfered. If anyone does spot a broken thread, it is helpful to be informed in the help forum as one of us will soon fix it. I have been reading this thread (using IE5 which reads past this error) and failed to spot anything wrong - Jon Freeman


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 05:14 PM

It seems to be a 'bully boy' tactic. Is a local authority really going to take action if three people were playing at the same time in an unpaid/unavertised session. Are they not going to look very silly?

If a publican is in agreement for me and others to play in their establishment, what the **** has it to do with anyone else?

I am a reasonable man. Am I missing something here? Or is this situation really as stupid as it appears?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 05:36 PM

Shambles, my understanding is that the situation is really as stupid as it seems.

The closest I have come to real trouble was in a session in Menai Bridge. I can only guess that someone had complained to the police who came in to the pub and demanded the names and addresses of everyone in the room and how much we were being payed to play/ had payed to go there. There must have been about 30 musicians and 10 listners and it took some time. I don't know why but no action was taken and this session continue to run in that venue for a few years before returning to its home in Bangor.

Conwy hosts the North Wales Bluegrass festival. There are occasional sessions in the town all year round but just about every year at the time of this event, notices are circulated to every licensee about the need for this licence and that those pubs who have more than 2 players and no licence will be prosecuted.

Seems crazy to me - the biggest music event in the town and most pubs are to scared to have a few musicians drop in and play and presumable don't want to have to get a licence for one weekend of the year. I'd have thought that if there is a case to just trying to get a good atmosphere in the town and making it feel welcoming to encourage musicians to return and turning a blind eye, this is one and I would guess that the town benifits far more from the visitors than it would from the licences...

Jon


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 05:41 PM

OK, enlighten me. WHy do you expect folk music to be free?

ANd why do you not expect regulation of organised gatherings and celebrations (and drinking)? If it was a punk band you'd soon demand that they be licensed. ANy sort of "knees-up" can get out of hand. THe history of it probably goes back to the gin mills and the likelihood of working-class riot.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 06:06 PM

Richard, a publican already has a licence and laws are in place to regulate certain types of behaviour. Why should they need an extra one to be allowed to have a group of people sitting down and (largely) entertaining themselves?

As for getting out of hand, in my experience, normal drinking in a pub by customers who don't know each other or possibly have a gruge against someone is far more likely to get out of hand than a group of people who are sharing and enjoying a common interest in music (punk included).

Certainly in my part of North Wales, the pubs that have had bad names for trouble have not been folk venues or venues that we would consider using. I would suggest that the law looked at where the real problems lay.

Jon


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 06:44 PM

Richard the fact that people are paid to perform music does not mean that is the only way to do it.

Where did anyone suggest that music should be provided free? However I surely have the right to provide my music freely, if I choose? If the publican wants me to do it, paid or unpaid in their pub, is that not their right?

That however is not the point. The point is that the premises are already controlled for drinking. They are safe to gather and drink, why should the same people not be safe if music is being played, whilst drinking?

There are issues of noise levels and there already regulations to deal with this. When there is no such issue, with acoustic instruments, where is the problem?

An entertainment licence will not prevent a riot. in the unlikely event of one breaking out, I do not think that it would be the people from the licencing dept that would be called. I think that your "gin mills" were not too much of a problem by 1982.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 04:49 PM

More here Help with PE licencing


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: GUEST,Andy Wall
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 07:16 PM

One point which was touched on was the holding of a folk event as a private club with a registered membership, etc. The Ely Folk Club operated in this way for a period, renting a room in a pub away from the main bars. The Cambridgeshire Police advised the local Environmental Health Officer that even if a folk club is meeting as a private members club on public licensed premises, the publican must have a Public Entertainments License! The club was rendered homeless less than two days prior to a relatively expensive guest night and had to fork out £45 for a room elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 07:37 PM

The Mudcat synchronicity has been kicking in once more. I missed this thread, and opened another one called Help: Public Entertainment Licences, with this long post prompted by something that I read in a lcal folk publication:

This is quite a long post, but not overlong for the content, so bear with me.

I've just been reading in Unicorn, a local folk magazine in my part of the world (Herts Exxes border in England) about Ely Folk Club closing its doors, largely because of hassles about the Public Entertainment Licence system.

To quote the January editorial:"We believe that the right to enjoy live music is one that we should be upholding, and any restrictions to the performance or presentation of live music, provided it does not infringe the rights of other members of the public, must be eliminated.

"For our part we intend to investigate firstly what laws are in place that affect the performance of live music and secondly, what can be done either to interpret these laws to benefit ourselves, or ultimately to make representations to have these outdated laws repealed."

So I thought I'd post something here, and maybe pass it on to Unicorn (send them an email with a link to the thread).

Essentially the problem is that unless a place has a PEL, it's not supposed to have any entertainment involving more than two live performers. The interpretation of the law has been very varied, but Ely came up against an interpretation that meant that more than two performers in the course of an evening broke the rules! And pubs with function room and with PELs are pretty scarce.

One factor is that to get a PEL it can cost a bit - œ150 a year or so for the license - but more important it can bring in public safety requirements which can cost thousands. So the pubs give up the licences, get rid of live music and use canned music, which has just the same public safety implications, but gets round the law.

What seems to be the problem is that the law doesn't appear to distinguish between the kind of public entertainment which involves large audiences milling around, and that which involves at couple of dozen sitting in a room singing making music together.

Most of the sessions we have in England are quite likely strictly speaking illegal, and dependent on landlords bending the rules and the police turning a blind eye. Which makes it all a bit precarious.

So any experience, and suggestions.Both from folkies in England and people with relevant experience in other places.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 07:58 PM

Here's the link to Unicorn which dropped out when I copied that post across from another thread. http://members.aol.com/unifolk/unicorn


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 08:02 PM

Sorry - I missed out a vital bit there - this should work better Here's the link to Unicorn which dropped out when I copied that post across from another thread. http://members.aol.com/unifolk/unicorn.html


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 08:57 PM

Shambles makes what seems to me a decusively good point. If the Dudley rules are an accurate statement of the situation - and Richard Bridge said he reckons they are - then clearly sessions where no charge is made in advance are not "public entertainments" -

"The common definition of a public entertainment is one which involves one or more of the above activities, is publicly advertised and where a fee is charged either before the event or on entry."

Of course it then goes on to talk about places with liquor licences being allowed to have two performers, and no dancers, under their liquor licence - but if that first definition is accurate, that would only be relevant to the situation where the place with a liquor licence is charging admission - as pubs often do on special occasions, such as New Years Eve.

So maybe we've all been labouring under a misunderstanding all along, and pubs do not in fact need PELs for sessions - and they don't even need to worry if a few people start dancing sets, as does sometimes happen in a good Irish session.

Clearly it would be useful to have a link to the actual legal basis for all this, the relevant Act etc, which I imagine should be available online. So if some clever person could hunt it out and blue clicky it...


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 02:17 AM

It would be interesting to know if these fanciful interpretations of Public Entertainments have ever in fact been tested in courts. It would seem pretty unlikely to me that any reasonable court would be impressed by some of the interpretations, from the licencing side.

The difficulty of couse is that if they wave the 'big stick' at the publican, that they will never be tested. The only losers are good folk who wish to share their music.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 09:54 AM

I would think that that document by Dudley Council would be a pretty waterproof defence, in Dudley anyway - even if the courts decided in thy end that the council had actually got it wrong.

And the same would go for anywhere where the local licensing body has come out with a similar statement. So if anybody can come up with any similar documents touching on the point at issue - "what is the definition of a public entertainment", it would be handy.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 03:50 PM

I've been doing some trawling around trying to find out more about the law on these issues. It's confusing, but then we knew that.

Now here is a very clear, but not particularly cheering website from Greenwich in London

The reason it's not cheering is that it is emphatic that if anybody can go to something, than it counts as public whether or not there is an admission charge or not. Which means that sessions in pubs would be included.

Moreover it also says that the two performers rule covers the whole evening, which would make any kind of singaround in a pub illegal. And if you are lucky enough to find a pub which still has a private function room, you've got to have a tight membership policy, with no membership on the night for example.

The only slightly bright point is that the relevant legislation here is said to be "Schedule 12 to the London Government Act 1963" – whereas the legislation outside London is "the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982".

That means that it is possible the rest of the country might have different rules, and that maybe these restrictions might not apply.

As for licensed premises (assuming that what is taking place inside them does count as "public entertainment", the legislation here is "Section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964".

So far I haven't been able to track down any of these Acts on the Internet – there's a law now saying that all legislation has to be published on the Net, but it only came in a few years ago, and isn't retrospective.

The impression I get is that most of what we do in the folk music way probably is illegal, and we get away with it because the law turns a blind eye, which is not really satisfactory. Morris dancing in public, for example has to be technically illegal if the dancers haven't got a Public Entertainment Licence…

It does occur to me to wonder whether things like that could possibly stand up in terms of current Human Rights legislation.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 08:47 PM

If the big stick is waved at publicans, it is unlikely that it will ever be tested. The Human Rights Act give you the right of assembley and of expression but are subject to other prevailing conditions such as licencing.

Catch 22?


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 07:17 AM

Sorry about the length of this but I have found if i write it all down I can move on.

I have come to the firm opinion that a publican does not need any additional licence for a session to take place on their premises. They should of course give their permission and any conditions and requests that they make should be observed. Should the gathering become too large or disorderly, all of the control necessary is in the wording of the existing drinks licence. The authority can take the licence and thus the publican's livelihood away.

When a group of pub customers have a get-together involving say darts, pool, quiz nights or any other such shared interests, the above is the process they go through and will not be troubled by the local licensing authority. Even if the events are advertised and receive an audience, it is recognised that it is organised largely by the customers and for the customers. If these events involve a fee, it could be argued that a public entertainment is being staged in but in practice it is unlikely, if not unheard of that any action would be taken against these events.

When exactly the same process is undertaken for a similar event, where the event is organised by and for the participants, and this event involves music (or dancing), such as a session or sing-around, some council officials are making the case that this event then, constitutes a public entertainment. On the grounds that because there are more than two people making music, this event therefore needs an additional Public Entertainment Licence, on top of the controls that are already in place to enable the establishment to sell drink.

This would appear to be just because music is involved? Also because they suspect that it may well be an attempt by the publican to get around the paying for a PEL. For there is the loophole that if music is staged in a pub, but the number of performers do not exceed two, this is covered by the drink licence and does NOT need a PEL. There seems no end to the imaginative ways that the licensing authority's officers will twist this interpretation, all to the detriment of session and folk clubs. Some interpret it to mean that it must not only be not more than two at a time but must be the same two individuals all evening.

It largely explains why there are lots of single performers and duos playing in pubs. It is easier for publicans to limit the number of performers than to go through the inconvenience and expense of obtaining a PEL. Or easier still to knock the music on the head altogether.

Places that have paid for a PEL, understandably do not like places that do not hold them, staging (largely musical) entertainment, even when, using the loophole these are legal. In addition, from my conversations with ours, I suspect that individuals working in council licensing offices do not like this either. That partially explains the apparent zeal in which they pursue their quarry, without seemingly being able to see the effect or seeing it from any other view.

The threat of action from the authority to the publican, will usually be all that is required to ensure that the session will be asked to go elsewhere. The revenue gained from holding sessions and folk clubs, not being enough to cover the cost and unwelcome attention of the authority.

So if the licensing authority is using this strict interpretation of the law to pressure it's pubs to obtain PELs, it is not working. I feel very strongly that pressure should be applied to make to them stop, while we still have some places left to hold sessions. All that is being generated by this action and interpretation of the law, is bad feeling.

In fairness some authorities do not use this interpretation to sessions. Milton Keynes, I am given to understand, interpret sessions as participatory and not as public entertainment and therefore not needing any additional controls. A very sensible approach (from the home of our Open University), in my view and one I wish would be adopted generally. For I can imagine people in other countries being very mystified by all this.

There is also an issue of basic human rights here. The right of assembly and of expression have both being obtained for us very recently, by The European Convention On Human Rights, in The Human Rights Act (appearing in a pub near you very soon).

It would appear that non-musicians and some musicians are now unable to see music as anything other than public entertainment and this usually means paid public entertainment. People having been singing together for the sheer pleasure of doing so in public places, such as churches, without this being classed as public entertainment. This the way I feel this issue should be viewed. Maybe if the session was held in a church it be OK? Obtaining a drink licence for a church could be more of a problem though?

This is not in any way an attack on those professionals who try to scrape an honest living from what they do well and love. However they do have unions to look after their interests. There maybe the view held that an unpaid session could draw an audience from a paid performance in a nearby establishment. I don't know the answer to that one, but I do not think that the answer is to take away a musicians right to provide their services freely, if they should wish to do so. Sessions do however tend to be held on the 'dead' nights of the week, when the musicians are not at paid gigs and are able to attend, so they will very rarely clash with paid gigs.

The publican's also have their associations to look after their interests. What concerns me is there does not appear to be any official body that is looking after the interests of MUSIC, in this situation. It would seem to me that it is MUSIC that is losing the most out of these interpretations of the law, at a time when more and more people appear want to make music.

The fact that a law may exist does not mean that it is in the best interests of anybody, that some are enforced and to the letter. The penalties for sheep-stealing are pretty severe and also for arson in her Majesty's Dockyard, but would not be enforced in today's climate.. There are more than enough laws and bye-laws already, that if they were all enforced, would mean that no one would be able to do anything. We are in great danger, on this issue of 'throwing the baby out with the bath-water'.

It would seem generally and certainly in this case that, many peoples constructive and positive efforts to try and benefit many, can be undone by one single negative voice, raised for whatever motive to the licensing authority. Because one can do something, it does not always follow that one should.

This is an issue that up to very recently I knew little about and this despite often performing in pubs. I feel sure that when sensible people are given the facts, they will immediately see the folly of this interpretation of this law and will try and look to find some common ground. That is all I would ask.

The only answer I can see at the moment is for individuals to approach their local councillors and request that their licensing authority interpret this law in a common-sense fashion. This to ensure that MUSIC is not the only loser in a battle where making MUSIC should not even be an issue.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 10:57 AM

"Maybe if the session was held in a church it be OK? Obtaining a drink licence for a church could be more of a problem though?"

Stortfolk runs in a Church vestry which has a bar...


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 03:38 PM

And I did hear of a place where the church was out of use or something, and they had the services in the pub. Maybe that's the answer!


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 04:00 PM

Shambles, I don't see much hope of persuading over-zealous council officials of common sense!

Jon


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 04:27 PM

There's over zealous council officers and there's helpful council officers, and the same goes for councillors. There are folk musicians and publicans among them. Never w3triote people off in advance.

The law is a mess, but changing it would be likely to make it even more of a mess. The normal way that gets sorted out in England is people agree to ignore the law. But sensible public policy statements at a local levelon how the council interprets the law would be helpful in practice.

Maybe this is one issue where London folkies could get on to Ken Livingstone. It's the kind of issue he might like to pick up and run with. (Except that'd probably get Tony Blair vengefully down on us, so maybe it's not such a good idea...)


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 04:38 PM

I take your point Jon but I do not suggest taking on the officials head on. I tend to agree with you and fear that this attempt would only result in them 'digging in their heels'.

In theory they only carry out the instructions of the councillors, whom we elect to carry out our wishes. If we can get our councillors to think that they will receive the blame for the 'killjoy' effects of their interpretation of this law and that this may effect their future elction prospects, we may have some hope?

Anyway I am going to take my banjo in to the nearest church and keep playing and praying that the Good Lord will find somwhere more suitable for me to play.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 04:38 PM

You have a point McGrath but in areas that are relitively trouble free, I would be more nervous of bringing this subject up with councillors as it could well lead them to suspect that there are sessions..., than keeping quiet.

Jon


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 04:57 PM

I find that I have to keep reminding myself that it is the year 2001 and not 1901.


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Subject: RE: HELP with UK Music Licencing problem?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jan 01 - 06:00 PM

If you've been to some places with PELs - such as discos and music pubs with nightclub licences - and I have because of my daughter's slightly metallish, grungeish, skatepunkish band - you'd know why PELs were required to enable public music performances to be regulated.

It would not be workable to define folk music for this purpose (hel, look what happens when we try to define it here), indeed look at the mess the UK gov't got into trying to define "raves" in order to ban them. THeir definition probably catches a performance of Ravel's "Bolero".

If you want to persuade the govenrment to change the law you need to knw very clearly indeed how the current law works, and even more clearly how you want to change it and what the effects will be. I went through a very long process a few years ago trying to persuade teh govt to change copyright law in order to protect TV programme formats - which a number of foreign countries' laws do, so I have some idea just how bloody minded some bureaucrats can be.

Ken Livingston may be the best bet. Rumour has it he likes Irish music.


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