Thursday, December 06, 2007

Glad I Don't Subscribe Anymore

I don't know what to make of the following article, bad journalism it is, but the message or at least the tone is quite strange.

What could have been an informative article, isn't. What could have helped explain copywrite and public performance, doesn't. What could have been an opinion piece, is not. Did this article make the obvious comparison - that florists don't license commercial enterprises to use flowers to create an atmosphere that adds value to a business, you know to "create an ambience for customers"... no it did not. It just filled some space.

Joanne Black is a right wing hack... what ever went wrong at The Listener, it used to be fantastic. I've been thinking of re subscribing to the magazine after not reading it for most of this year, mainly because I miss the in depth articles on NZ issues. But I think perhaps I can lvie without if for a while more.

Anyways read the artilce, it concerns music, which is a huge interest of mine.

For your ears only by Joanne Black

An Auckland businesswoman pinged for playing CDs without a licence says the law is playing loony tunes.

Joanna Thomson is director of Flower Systems Ltd, an importer of artificial flowers, trees and Christmas decorations, which it sells mostly to the film industry and commercial designers for use in hotels, shopping malls and the like. But as she had some over-runs, seconds and other Christmas items, she decided to open her Penrose warehouse to the public for the first time this year and advertised a sale on Saturday, November 10.

Thomson says the first hour was quiet. “I was pottering around pricing things, so I put some music on, as I do when I’m at home.” Customers arrived, including one at about midday who bought a few things from another staff member and left.

Thomson hadn’t even noticed her, but the following Tuesday she received an invoice for $150 from Phonographic Performances NZ Ltd (PPNZ) and a letter saying that Flower Systems was in breach of the Copyright Act by playing recorded music without a current Public Performance Licence. According to the letter, the breach was discovered during “a recent site visit, conducted by one of our Music Licensing Representatives”.

Whoa! Pull up the reindeer, cries Thomson. “I have had more reasonable treatment from the traffic police.” She says she does not consider she was giving a public performance of recorded music, had paid for the CDs and had never heard of a Public Performance Licence, let alone the requirement to have one.

“I can understand it in a bar or cafĂ©, but we’re not even retailers, really. We were just having a clear-out of some stock. The whole thing is stupid. It was more the manner in which it was done that annoys me – that on a Saturday, she could come in, take advantage of the bargains, but not identify herself. It’s bah, humbug stuff. It’s ridiculous. Am I going to pay it? I don’t know, probably not.”

PPNZ general manager of licensing Mark Roach says he apologises if his staff caused offence, “but, without wanting to sound nasty about it, that’s not the point”.

“If I’m in a bar on a Friday night, I might think, ‘Hmm, music’s being played here’, and when I get in to work on a Monday morning I might have a look at the database. If I see that the bar hasn’t been licensed yet, we’ll send them out a letter and a pamphlet. It says, ‘You may not be aware of it, but playing music commercially, as background music in your business, requires licensing and here’s the information about it.’

“When it comes down to it, we take quite a soft approach. In our experience people often aren’t aware, but we’re letting them know and giving them an opportunity to sort it out. Some people take umbrage, unfortunately, but that’s the law. We have to use everything at our disposal to identify where breaches of the Copyright Act might be occurring and then follow up on that. We’d be remiss if we didn’t.”

He says Thomson was not specifically targeted or made an example of. Although her business might be open to the public for just a small part of the year, “when it is, she plays recorded music to create an ambience for customers. That’s where the Copyright Act kicks in – it requires the permission of the copyright owners, which is represented by our blanket licence. Music is sold to the public on the basis of domestic use only – the back of a CD says in small print that it is not for public performance, for broadcast or hiring or lending etc.”

Thomson thinks it petty that she can lawfully play music in the warehouse when the public are excluded, but not when they aren’t.

Roach says that’s the law. “At the end of the day, it’s being used to add value to the business.”

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