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Author Topic: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute  (Read 6486 times)

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Rees

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Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« on: July 16, 2008, 05:48:15 PM »

The following arrived today from the Musicians Union. I reproduce it here for anyone who is a member of PRS but not in the MU.
It is the first I have heard of this conflict but thought it best to pass it on.
For non-UK forum members Whitby is in Yorkshire, England, UK.

MU Folk, Roots & Traditional Music Section - Whitby Folk Week

"Both the MU and the PRS are concerned about this situation and have taken a number of steps to address this issue with the organisers. Following a recommendation to the Executive Committee from the FRTM Section Committee, the EC fully supported the concerns raised in the recommendation and has authorised AGS Horace Trubridge to liaise with the PRS and to address the concerns of the Union with Whitby Folk Week.

Members should be aware that folk festivals now come under the standard PRS tariff for music events and no longer enjoy the lower charge previously applied. That means that any copyrighted original songs or arrangements will attract a performance royalty for PRS members, with the festival paying the standard PRS licence fee for the use of those works.

Horace Trubridge will be approaching the organisers of the event to question the need for the festival to acquire an assignment of rights for any and all audio/visual exploitation and to raise our objections to the contract.

The PRS has confirmed that the assignment agreement required by the WFW organisers has no validity as PRS members have assigned the performing right in their compositions, whether registered with the PRS or not, to the Performing Right Society. As the member is no longer directly controlling the public performance rights in his/her composition/arrangement, the member cannot assign or grant licences for the public performance right in any of his/her compositions to any other party, either temporarily or permanently.

If you have received a contract of this nature, either from WFW or any other organisation please ensure you refer it to the Union's Contract Advisory Service, which can be accessed through your Regional Office.

Should you require further information or advice in respect of this matter please contact the FRTM Secretary, Paul Westwell, on folk@musiciansunion.org.uk

  ???
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BruceHenderson

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2008, 10:21:34 PM »

    Rees, a couple of questions.  To get past the legalese gobbledygook, does this mean:

1)  The WFW people are not allowed to contract with performers for copies of recordings and the use of photos taken at the event for next year's publicity?

2)  An individual performer isn't allowed to contract with WFW without a PRS contract and payout?

   And, I'm guessing "Trubridge" is a lawyer/law firm/barristers' firm?

   I'm all for "intellectual property" but it seems to me that folk festival events are going to be priced out of existence with all this stuff going on.

BH, NC USA
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Ebor_fiddler

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2008, 11:06:17 PM »

This discussion parallels a similar one on Mudcat, the latest contribution to which is "Tell them to get stuffed". While I heartily echo this sentiment, they are a bullying organisation and make their own rules, largely for their own convenience and the profits of their major members - the large "music" corporations - I can see no alternative to obeying their dictatorship unfortunately, unless they make the mistake of taking somebody on who can afford to pay exhorbitant lawyer's fees (is it in Richard II that the best remembered quote is "The first thing we do is hang all the lawyers.")? >:(

Rant over.   :(
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Falseknight

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2008, 11:58:58 PM »

This never used to be an issue - though the law hasn't really changed.  Singing alternate arrangements to "Blowin In The Wind" to 10 non fee-paying audience never really excited the PRS.

Now, with the festivals attracting global TV coverage, the PRS are protecting the interests of their performers.

Overhaul of copyright and performing rights management is seriously due overhaul. 
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Rees

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2008, 12:33:32 AM »

I've no idea what this is all about really.
I'm a member of both PRS and the MU and both regularly piss me off with their rules and regulations and committees and huffing and puffing and all the other cobblers that goes with top heavy organisations.

I'm grateful to PRS for collecting and distributing royalties on my compositions but don't know the full story behind their dispute with Whitby Folk Week.
As for the MU, I only joined for the Public Liability insurance. The only other thing I've ever had from them is a diary once a year!
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Falseknight

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2008, 09:04:29 AM »

Horace Trubridge will be approaching the organisers of the event to question the need for the festival to acquire an assignment of rights for any and all audio/visual exploitation and to raise our objections to the contract.

The PRS has confirmed that the assignment agreement required by the WFW organisers has no validity as PRS members have assigned the performing right in their compositions, whether registered with the PRS or not, to the Performing Right Society. As the member is no longer directly controlling the public performance rights in his/her composition/arrangement, the member cannot assign or grant licences for the public performance right in any of his/her compositions to any other party, either temporarily or permanently.


Read this now when properly awake.

This suggests that WFW is attempting to secure rights to "recordings" of the proceedings for subsequent commercial use.  Since musicians (who are PRS Members) have already assigned responsibility for collection of monies owed to PRS, the PRS is saying that WFW is out of order in requesting this because these rights are now adminstered on behalf of the musicians and not re-assignable.  (I hope that doesn't sound as much like legal rubbish as the last lot?)

Is WFW justified in requesting/requiring to own performance rights for everything done under the agis of the festival?

Thats a good one.  Traditional musicians would argue that no-one has right of ownership on the tradition, jobbing musicians would be destressed at the thought of WFW making money from subsequent re-publication/broadcast of their performances with them not seeing any fee.  Compare and contrast exploitation of black blues musicians in the 40s and 50s.

Like I said, this lot is long overdue overhaul - to the benefit of the musician, not the publisher.
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j mobot

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2008, 09:33:25 AM »

No, this is what the dispute is about :-

Every festival and event has to get a PRS license in order to pay the writers of the material performed at the event (it's nothing to do with recordings - this is handled by the MCPS). The new Whitby committee has decided that they wish to save money by not applying for a licence and asking for each performer at the festival to sign a waiver saying that they won't perform any material which is either written by somebody else or non-traditional. The PRS's view is that even if the performers sign a waiver, they have already granted PRS the rights to collect royalties on their behalf by becoming members, and they can't suspend their membership temporarily. From what I can gather, a lot of performers have just signed the forms for Whitby because they don't want to rock the boat, but I don't think they fully grasp what is going on.

Its not about recordings, or PEL (public entertainments licenses for those abroad) - it's about Whitby trying to take a stand against what they see as the "bullying" of the PRS, and also trying to avoid paying (indirectly) for the material performed at the folk week.

As someone who earns a reasonable amount of my income from PRS/MCPS returns, I think there's a lot of misinformation floating about. I am not "one of the big boys" like Elton John or Sting and I receive multiples of thousands of pounds every year from performing in folk clubs and arts centres (i.e. not big London venues).  In my experience the system is perfectly fair to the musician as long as you are conscientious with registering songs and filling in the returns. I can sympathise with landlords who feel they are being bullyed over having to get a license to have a traditional session in their pub, but for a festival the size of Whitby I think that they really ought to have a licence and formally pay the writers and arrangers of the songs and tunes performed.
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Falseknight

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2008, 10:23:48 AM »

WFW always had a reputation for being traditional!

So suppose I am a largely traditional traditional musician who performs his own arrangements of traditional musician and the odd own arrangement of written songs in common currency.  I am not registered with PRS or MCPS.  Who then gets the portion of the license fee due for my performance - especially if (and this is broadening it out again) performance is recorded and subsequently re-transmitted.  Do I own the rights to performance or the person recording, or their employer?

I also suspect that there is an element of double pay here (though I could be wrong).

The PRS license is the responsibility of the venue.  When I was more involved in this I remember giving lists of songs and authors to the person compiling "the list" so that the returns could be submitted so that the share-out to members could be completed.

The venues at Whitby, I presume, already have PRS licenses, so lists will be made for the venue.  Why are PRS insisting on an overall list for the festival as a whole (if this is what they are doing).  Is it because a substantial part of the proceedings will take place in otherwise unregistered (unlicensed) premises which requres a license for the event only - in which case the fee for the license should be open to negotiation  - dependent on the proportion of non-chargable music performed.
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j mobot

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2008, 12:26:39 PM »

Whitby have made the decision because folk festivals previously got a discount compared to other festivals, and the rules have changed slightly. PRS licenses are issued per event so

If you are a non-PRS member performing traditional material at a festival or venue that has payed PRS, and you fill in a return then the money will be held for you until you join. Traditional material is classified as an arrangement, so all the PRS money goes to the arranger - usually the performer. After a few years unclaimed the money goes into a fund which goes towards things like the PRS foundation which gives grants to arts projects. I have had grants from them for several things over the last few years including a six month project working with the  wax cylinder recordings of Joseph Taylor recorded in Lincolnshire in the early 1900's. I know of dozens of other traditional projects that have also been funded by them as well, so its not all going to the major music companies.

Recordings are a slightly trickier area - they are administrated by the MCPS (mechanical copyright protection service) which deals with CDs and the like, or PPL (phonographic performance limited) which deals with broadcast royalties rather than the PRS. Lets say for the sake of argument that the BBC recorded me at Sidmouth. The BBC would own the recording and the rights to the recording, but they would have to pay publishing money to the MCPS and/or PPL to 'exploit' those recordings. They would also likely pay me a session fee for my performance. The MCPS/PPL money is for writing or arranging the material, the session fee is for playing it. So, the BBC would own that specific recording of the performance, but not the song performed. Its similar to photography where somebody who takes a picture of me owns the photograph despite the fact that I am in it - they own that specific photograph, but they don't own my face.

I admit that its sometimes a bit confusing. I only know about this because I deal with it day in day out.
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Falseknight

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2008, 04:34:43 PM »

Would it be possible to think up a more confusing scheme so we could employ even more lawyers [:)]?

There definitely needs to be consideration of streamlining this.
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A Nonny Mouse Esq

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2008, 05:16:31 PM »

As most melodeons have two reeds per note, or in the case of Rees four, it seems only fair that they should pay twice and four times the PRS fee respectively.  >:(
Now you know why I play one finger piano. ;D
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Rees

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2008, 11:18:32 PM »

I was a bit nervous about starting this thread but now I'm so glad I did. It has been most edifying, thank you both.

Right, I'm off to strip a few reeds out of my melodeons in case that Nonny Mouse idea catches on!  ;)
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JD

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2008, 06:58:53 PM »

I've read this thread and still feel confused as to whether this affects me or not. I shall be playing for a dance side at Whitby (first time this year). Do I need to note what I play and report it to the venue organiser? Should I be worried about whether what I play is still in copyright (lots of musichall tunes)? Or should I take the "I do this for fun and I'm not a professional musician" stance and plead ignorance about the whole thing?
Damned red tape....
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Falseknight

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2008, 08:40:49 PM »

Ultimately, it's  no the musician's problem.  It is problem of the venue -specifically, they are responsible for compiling and submitting the lists.  Your problem is to play in time (ish) and in tune(ish) and keep the punters happy with the music  ;)
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flipper

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2008, 01:33:46 AM »

and lets not forget that its all about having fun, wether professional of amateur once the fun goes out of it then there is no point carrying on

sue
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george garside

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2008, 11:06:10 AM »

and lets not forget that its all about having fun,   

Couldn't agree more!  I will be there as usual  enjoying myself along with lots of other like minded individuals. I trust that if I am supposed to know about the PRS stuff I will be duly informed & told what to do or not do and notwithsatanding anything I will be doing 5 beginners DG workshops mon to fri inclusive. 9.30 to 11.20 at stakesby arms pub and two 'steady' sessions both at middle earth pub and for some reason both on wednesday 1 to 3 and another much the same! from 5 to 7.  All welcome!

george
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Ebor_fiddler

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2008, 12:43:56 PM »

Thanks for the class's place George. I have noted my diary and trust that my 11.30 appointment (Geoff Cubitt's "American Dance") is not too far away - at least it's nearly all downhill from the Stakesby!  ;D

Chris.
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I'm a Yorkie!
My other melodeon's a fiddle, but one of my Hohners has six strings! I also play a very red Hawkins Bazaar in C and a generic Klingenthaler spoon bass in F.!! My other pets (played) are gobirons - Hohner Marine Band in C, Hohner Tremolo in D and a Chinese Thingy Tremolo in G.

george garside

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2008, 01:39:31 PM »

Thanks for the class's place George. I have noted my diary and trust that my 11.30 appointment (Geoff Cubitt's "American Dance") is not too far away - at least it's nearly all downhill from the Stakesby!  ;D

Chris.


for those who have never been to Whitby Folk Week its better than joining weightwatchers. People scuttering up & down hills like columns of ants carrying instruments etc from event to event - some claim to have lost a stone or more !
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JD

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2008, 12:07:16 AM »

By complete coincidence (I hope) I have just been handed a form asking for details of all the tunes I play (or might play over the next year) for my clog group at Cecil Sharp House. And it only has room for 20 tune names. And their composers. And publishers. And possibly inside leg measurement.

I don't know about people having fun and playing in time and in tune. Where's my pen? :(
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Falseknight

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Re: Whitby Folk Week and PRS dispute
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2008, 08:47:03 AM »

You could always say, "It's morris", and try to claim exemption [:)]
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