Bum note? Your £100,000 bill for music licences

Public bodies have to pay for a licence so their staff can listen to music at work
Public bodies have to pay for a licence so their staff can listen to music at work

Taxpayers in the county have paid more than £100,000 since 2008 so that bodies such as the police and councils can play music in their premises.

Under a Freedom of Information request, the Telegraph has discovered that during 2011-22 Northamptonshire Police paid £4,090 to the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) so that it was licensed to play music in rest rooms, canteens, custody blocks, the vehicle workshop and fitness room.

By contrast, Corby Council paid just over £400 in 2012-13 to allow it to play music in The Cube.

The previous financial year it did not pay for a licence to give it the right to play music in the workplace or public places.

Wellingborough Council has arrangements in place which allow the public to play or host live music events when they hire a venue from the council.

The only council property that needs to pay for a licence is Glamis Hall in Goldsmith Road, where the council runs a day care service for older people.

The fee for this in 2012-13 was £81.88.

To allow it to play music at various locations on its site, Kettering General Hospital paid the PRS £3,383.94 in 2012-2013 and PPL £656.82.

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust paid a total of £8,935.48 to the two bodies in 2012-2013 to enable it to play music at various sites including Cransley Hospice, Corby Health Complex, Clarendon House in Kettering and Thrapston Health Clinic.

Staff at Northamptonshire Probation Service are allowed to play music on personal audio equipment using headphones during their breaks but no music is played elsewhere, meaning the service does not have to play for a licence.

Similarly, East Northamptonshire Council does not pay any money to either licensing body, although it does not have a policy to discourage or prevent staff or visitors from playing music.

Last financial year Kettering Council spent £3,989.23 on licences to enable it to play music in places such as the Market Place and at events including Desborough Carnival.

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, if recorded music is played in public every play of every recording requires the permission of the owner of the copyright in that recording.

If a business requires a PPL licence but does not obtain one, the business is infringing copyright and may face legal action. A PPL music licence can cost from as little as 19p a day.