Bill driven ga-ga over radio claim

Radio Ga-Ga: Bill Kelly, owner of Better Read Books, is furious with the way the performing rights law is being interpreted
Radio Ga-Ga: Bill Kelly, owner of Better Read Books, is furious with the way the performing rights law is being interpreted

AN Ellon shop owner has reacted furiously to being told that he needs a licence to listen to the radio at work - after the body responsible for licensing music contacted him by phone on the pretext of conducting a survey.

Bill Kelly, owner of Ellon’s ‘Better Read’ bookshop, was astounded to learn that his radio - located in a private area to the rear of the shop, needed a licence before he could even use it to listen to speech broadcasts.

The call to Mr Kelly was made by a London-based company called PPL - known previously as Phonographic Performance Limited. PPL is the UK’s licencing company, which deals with management of the rights to use recorded music and videos for public performance and broadcast.

The company is responsible for licencing UK radio and television stations to use sound recordings and music videos in their transmissions, as well as the businesses which play these recordings in public.

The income generated is then allocated and paid to their record company and performer members, often referred to as royalties or revenue payments.

“When their representative telephoned, they simply said they were from a company called PPL”, said Mr Kelly. “They never at any point explained what they did, instead asking me if I’d provide them with some information for a survey they were carrying out on what people listened to on the radio.

“About half way through, the penny dropped that this wasn’t just an ordinary survey - it was a way of trying to get money for a performance licence.”

Mr Kelly claims to listen only to the radio for personal use, in a private area of the shop to which customers have neither access nor earshot. “I listen to the news and Radio 4 when I’m here”, he said. “As an individual, I feel that by PPL acting in this way, my rights to listen privately to the radio are being infringed.

“It’s completely wrong that the law is being interpreted this way. This is not what the law was intended to do, which was to cover a portion of artist’s royalties. I’ve no objection to artists getting their due rights, but I am prepared to challenge this in court if need be, and to make people aware of this encroachment of their liberties.

“PPL is a private company, which is pursuing people on the basis of surreptitious phone calls. I resent the presumption of guilt here, which is that anyone who is listening to a radio is doing so to help promote their business - which is not the case!”

The principle that artists creating a sound recording should be paid for the broadcasting and public performance of their work was established in 1933, when record companies EMI and Decca brought a case against the owner of a restaurant in Bristol.

No-one from PPL was available to respond to Mr Kelly’s comments at the time of going to press.