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  • The Public Entertainment Licence has been around for many years (probably even before I was born). They are usually handled by the local council and apply to any building or structure (including tents and marquees) where music is to be played or performed, regardless of whether it is live, pre-recorded or being broadcast via a radio, in what would be considered a public area. Thus private homes are excluded, but your local barber is required to have one if they wish to have any music in the shop.

    When I was at 6th form college, the 6th formers had their own tuckshop and lounge area, where we were able to play music via a sound system, from the radio or cassettes (CDs weren't being mass produced back then ... I did say the licence has been a round for a long time didn't I ;) ). Anyway, before we were allowed to plug the sound system in, we (well the school) had to apply for a special licence for us, as the main one they used only covered the main buildings and the 6th form building was designate separate for some reason.

    PRS has been taking a notable part of the revenue from the licence, and it has been a source of controversy for many years too. The reason being that the main benefactor of the PRS royalties is Paul McCartney, due to the large number of copyright holdings he owns. Some live music venues requires that any artist that performs on stage to complete a form that lists their setlist and the writers of each song. I believe this was instigated to thwart McCartney, and ensure that those smaller artists actually got the royalties they deserve. All radio stations are also supposed to submit a list of the songs they broadcast everyday too.

    The amusing part of all this is that none of The Beatles own their own songs, and as such neither McCartney nor the Lennon estate receive any royalties for The Beatles music via PRS :)