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Pay Per View

Forget ID cards for a moment; you might have more to worry about in future from the creeping advance of copyright and patent legislation which may give you sleepless nights, just in case your teenage son or daughter downloads the latest jingle or music track from their PC without a license.

It’s not just file-sharing you have to think about if you happen to run a business these days. I’ve just had a bizarre conversation with the so-called “Copyright Protection Office” (CPO) which if would make a fine Ben Elton, “Blackadder” sketch.

A local "Mom and Dad" business handed me a letter they received last week, a “Notice of Proposed Case Registration” from the CPO, warning them of the risk of civil or criminal action if they didn’t purchase a Music License within fourteen days.

From what I can gather, the CPO has sent thousands of these letters to registered businesses, just in case they might have music or radio playing in the workplace. I should tell you , that the CPO are unable to reveal what percentage of UK businesses actually hold a music license but listening to Radio 4 at work on your PC is no excuse, just in case your colleagues overhear “any music” that might find it’s way into the air around you.

“So let me see if I understand this correctly”, I said to the young lady in the CPO office in Glasgow. “I’m listening to Radio 4 or Radio 5 at work, in a florist maybe and because my colleagues or customers “might overhear”, I need a license from you?”

“That’s correct”, she said, “any business with more than four people present on the premises.”

“But when I listen to the BBC, they already have a license don’t they?” “Yes”, she replied “but only to broadcast to you but nobody else in your workplace.”

So it appears that I handsomely fund the BBC to deliver an exclusive television and radio service to me only and if you happen to overhear it in my office, then I could be in trouble and like my daughter, could find myself targeted as an exemplary victim of the full wrath of the music industry, if I don’t pay up, just in case the Radio 4 jingle “leaks” into the office environment and is overheard by my daughter’s Hamster or my wife.

I’ve summarised a rather long conversation recorded on my PC – I wonder if I need a recording license? Actually, I’m told I don’t because working from home may not constitute a business premises and anyway, The Performing Rights Society tell me that they very rarely prosecute small businesses and prefer to argue the benefits of buying a music license instead but if you happen to be streaming any kind of content in your office that might involve music, then watch out!.

Music, followed by software is very obviously where the publishing industry is seen to be most aggressive and we are fast arriving at a moment in time where we will find ourselves “taxed” on broadcast content of any kind if we happen to live in the G7 nations. If you happen to live in Mongolia and listen to the BBC World Service from your Yurt tent, you’re safe for now because the PRO doesn’t have an office there but the writing is on the wall for content of any kind, music, sports broadcasting, software, you name it, digital rights management and aggressive legislation driven from the United States, marks the end of what we have come to understand as “free listening” or watching and yet I suspect that only the big media interests will benefit, the rest of us will discover that the “rip, mix and burn” message is the predecessor of the arrival of a more universal pay per view existence.


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