New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

Some of you might be interested in this discussion. Please contribute there not here - I’d like to keep all the comments in one place so I can point PRS at it once a consensus starts to emerge (assuming it does).

Happy to be proved wrong!

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

I don’t know much about PRS, I’ve just been to their website and I am not much wiser. Can anybody give me a brief overview of how they might affect me? I play at a traditional Irish session in a pub. We receive no payment. People occasionally sing a song, last night we had a visitor who sang a couple of pop songs. Apart from that, we played traditional tunes like those on this site.

Posted .

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

It’s when they turn up at the pub and threaten legal action unless the landlord gets a licence that you need to worry. They are parasites on the trad music scene, don’t understand it and see it all from the commercial music angle.
I’m all for the ongoing debate that tombliss talks of, go to his site and contribute !

Farewell to Ashokan Farewell?

PRS="Performing Rights Society", Yes?

The PRS is concerned only with the performance of copyrighted material, is it not?

If musicians are playing only traditional material
what’s this got to do with sessions?

OK, occasionally some non-traditional stuff gets played . "Ashokan Farewell" would be a case in point.

But I for one wouldn’t be too disappointed if I never had to listen to Ashcan (Sorry, Ashokan) Farewell again …. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Cool sharp exit) …. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

Well if that was the case there would be no problem. Unfortunately, as you’ll see if you visit the fRoots site, PRS’s approach is that if one tune that they do control (AF, for example, is registered in the PRS database to both Jay Ungar and - wrongly, but that’s another matter - Sean McGuire) is played, then a licence IS required.

And they include not only new tunes which they control, but also all public domain material on the basis that the session may ‘accidentally’ (complex issue, see fRoots) play a ‘registered arrangement’ thereof. And it doesn’t even have to be an existing arrangement - it could be one registered in future and then claimed retrospectively.

We do need much clearer guidelines on what constitutes an arrangement because at the moment PRS are having their cake and eating it - and this is also something I’m trying to get sorted out.

Quite a few well known session tunes are in fact copyright to PRS members. OK, they may not want PRS to collect on these when played in sessions, but PRS thinks it should - hence why I’m campaigning for a ‘creative commons’ check box in the PRS registration process.This would allow tune writers to elect to collect only on ‘proper’ performances (i.e. effectively only their own gigs and recordings), and have their work treated as PD in sessions and/or when not money is changing hands.

Without this PRS can continue to hassle the landlords of sessions that take place in pubs without a normal licence.

The new tariff seems to be an attempt to resolve this problem, but in my opinion it does not.

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

PS - and that’s why I think it’s wrong that tunes can be uploaded to sites like this one without a requirement for the writer to be identified.

Knowing which tunes are in fact in copyright is a key step in resolving this issue.

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

As I understand it, also, most people roll over and get the bloody licence when pressured. The PRS has never actually ( correct me if I’m wrong ) taken someone to court in this matter of small licences for small premises, they too have backed down when someone has seriously resisted them, so this whole matter has not been legally challenged, which would need someone with serious money and available time to do.

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

True on both counts (as far as I know).

But as a PRS member who plays sessions a lot I’m unhappy with a compromise which relies on pressure to get

1) A normal licence priced to cover 100% PRS controlled works when the event may be 0% PRS controlled.

2) A ‘Session Tariff’ licence which actually can’t be used for a session.

I think it’s better to have a fair an equitable system in place before someone does bring a test case which might either bankrupt PRS (could happen if they had to pay back all the money wrongly collected under the old system) or some poor landlord.

It bothers me that PRS don’t take only pay lip service to the issue of traditional and unpublished works, and that I, as an associate member, suffer from association with a deeply unpopular and misunderstood organisation

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

But if a tune WAS undeniably copyright. how would you stop someone playing it at a session?

The musician concerned might:

(a) either not know it to be copyright, or
(b) know it to be copyright, but decide to play it anyway!

Tune submission to this site doesn’t permit optional abc headers - a useful one in this case might be C:Composer.

But you would have to persuade Jeremy to allow that extra header, which might be difficult.

And even if you know the composer, you wouldn’t know whether is was copyright - you would only know that it might possibly be.

And here’s another question. If a tune IS copyright, and you post your own abc transcription of it to the Internet, is that an infringement of copyright?

The whole thing’s a minefield … ๐Ÿ™

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

Hi Mix

The idea is to have a tariff that allows some flexibility as a goodwill gesture if nothing else - and try to be fairer than the current system.

I’m suggesting that there would still be a licence, but it would be set at a rate to reflect an average across the board, and across the land. So the PRS would still have funds from the low tariff to cover royalty payments. (And they’d still get fees at the current rate from actual gigs and broadcasts).

I had a concerted go at Jeremy about attribution when I first joined this site but without any response. I’m even more concerned about MySpace and YouTube not having a field for displaying composers/authors because it erodes writers’ rights. When someone uploads a cover of one of my songs it says, for example "The Violin by Joe Bloggs’ - implying he wrote it.

I’m trying to find a system that would work for tune sessions, song sessions, mixed sessions AND gigs, while still allowing authors and composers to get their just dues when they want them.

On the whole we can assume that most tunes played in sessions are either trad or ‘unofficial creative commons’, so all we need to do is formalise the creative commons aspect, and set a very low tariff to cover the few where the writer does actually want a royalty..

For songs you can generally assume that anything well known written in the last 100 years will be copyright, unless it’s by a local hero. Again, it’s a compromise, but I think we could settle on a rate that would average out across the board.

Posting an ABC of a copyright work might be in infringement (copyright also resides in books and sheet music separate to the music it represents), but it wouldn’t bother PRS as they’re only concerned with performance. The composer or publisher might sue, but it would be very unlikely and not a factor in this debate.

A minefield perhaps, but one with a nice safe motorway right through the middle!

I’ve now set out my suggestions in the fRoots thread.


Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

Incidentally, since I started going to folk music clubs in 1965, and various playing in barn dances since 1975, and sessions for the last 8 years, I think I’ve seen two, yes TWO, PRS forms in all that time.
They’re not so much interested in getting accurate information as just in collecting money.
On these grounds, you can see why they have such a poor knowledge and understanding of the operations of the various potential gatherings for playing traditional music.

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

Yes, that is a problem, but there is actually a lot more reporting going on nowadays than you might realise. Under the Gigs and Clubs scheme bands and artists send in their own set lists after the event, so venues can enter the system without knowing it.

But you’re right that they don’t really understand. There is one bona fide folkster who works there, but - if I’m right - the people who’ve been advising them are performing folk-related artists who don’t really do sessions or singarounds.


(Are you from, or in, Gu - and if so did you go to Sark last weekend? Are there any sessions there these days - apart from the Cock and Bull? An excellent player chum of mine has just moved to St PP, and I get over from Alderney every now and then).

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

We had a PRS guy come into our session once. He sat their with a clipboard the whole way though, demanding to know the names of every tune played after each set. It ruined the session somewhat!

We tried to make sure, for that session, we were only playing stuff out of copyright but it’s impossible to know for sure. We also couldn’t find out if that was the right thing to do, or whether deliberately playing in-copyright stuff and giving the name of the composer would have netted the composer money legitimately?

Posted by .

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

Anyway, the whole thing seemed joy-sucking and bureaucratic. It’s a few amateurs playing tunes together ffs.

Posted by .

Re: New PRS Session Tariff - illegal/unworkable?

Oh, but what fun you could have with that!
"Let’s see, those were The Vicar’s Knickers, My Uncle’s Not At Home But He Will Be Soon If You Just Wait Behind the House, and I think the last one was called The Spotted Dick"

"No, that last one was the Dose of the Clap"

"That’s what I said, isn’t it?"