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RIAA-partner, PRS threatened to sue Sandra Burk, a British woman, for singing on the job. They eventually back down after a torrent of negative publicity.  (Source: BBC News)
Yet another example of irresponsible copyright enforcement rears its ugly head

From suing dead people, to attacking CD-burning of legally-owned content for personal use, to seeking damages against people who don't own a computer, it doesn't seem like there's many lows to which copyright protection organizations like the RIAA won't stoop.  However, a recent case involving the Performing Right Society (PRS) -- a British RIAA affiliate -- shows that even the most curmudgeonly copyright organization can occasionally come around, when faced with overwhelming public scorn.

The humorous tale involves the organization catching wind of a “heinous” offense -- an employee singing in public.  Sandra Burt, 56, who works at A&T Food store (a British supermarket) in Clackmannanshire, UK was told by organization representatives that she would likely face fines for lost royalties for her "performance". 

The debacle began earlier in the year when the PRS threatened the grocery store she worked at, telling them to ditch the radio that played in earshot of customers or pay royalty fees.  Missing the music, Ms. Burt decided to start singing some of her favorite tunes.  She describes, "I would start to sing to myself when I was stacking the shelves just to keep me happy because it was very quiet without the radio."

Then came new threats from the PRS.  Ms. Burt describes, "When I heard that the PRS said I would be prosecuted for not having a performance license, I thought it was a joke and started laughing.  I was then told I could be fined thousands of pounds. But I couldn't stop myself singing. They would need to put a plaster over my mouth to get me to stop, I can't help it."

Indeed, the woman, who describes herself as a Rolling Stones fan and classic rocker, refused to stop singing.  BBC News caught wind of the story and published a piece on it.

The reaction was instant, with many writing furious letters to the PRS.  Facing an overwhelming outpouring of public vehemence, the PRS backed down, as the RIAA occasionally has.  They sent her a bouquet of flowers as an apology and said she had their permission to keep singing.  The note read, "We're very sorry we made a big mistake.  We hear you have a lovely singing voice and we wish you good luck."

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RE: The new penal Isle?
By DougF on 10/23/2009 11:53:23 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, for not paying your TV tax. Anyone can have a TV, they just have to pay a tax to operate it. And the logic is that having a TV is equivalent to operating it, ergo TV owners must pay the Telly Tax. And no, the excuse of "It's only on for the budgie", doesn't cut it. I do recall a Scotsman who had to prove he had no television set in his home because the gov't believed everyone MUST have a telly, therefore everyone MUST PAY. But, he was able to prove his case and the gov't had to back down.

RE: The new penal Isle?
By geddarkstorm on 10/23/2009 1:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, but that's just all sorts of screwed up. What's so incredible about turning on a TV to capture publicly blasted waves that requires a friggin operation tax? You already pay for the electricity.. for the materials in the construction (when you bought it).. so.. what are you being taxed over, the loss of energy in the broadcast from you intercepting and viewing it? Cripes. This has got to be one of the most draconian, stupid things I've ever heard. And the British people allowed this?

It's no surprise they can try to fine someone for SINGING with that sorta crap going on willy nilly.

RE: The new penal Isle?
By PlasmaBomb on 10/23/2009 3:43:39 PM , Rating: 3
The BBC is funded by the TV licence in the UK.

RE: The new penal Isle?
By Helbore on 10/24/2009 3:34:26 PM , Rating: 1
I know that, I live in the UK!

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