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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 Helbore on 10/23/2009 12:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
Not true. One, you only need a TV license if you are receiving broadcast television programs. ie. terrestrial, cable, sattelite. If you only have it connected to a DVD or video player, or are using it as a PC monitor, you don't need a license. (You also need a license if you are recording broadcast signals, but don't have a TV set)

Two, you can't be sent to prison for failing to pay your license. You can, however, be sent to prison for refusing to pay the court-imposed fine that you received for not paying your TV license.

So, no, you can't be sent to jail for having a TV.


RE: The new penal Isle?
By Fritzr on 10/24/2009 4:25:39 AM , Rating: 2
The tricky part is proving that the TV with builtin tuner is not being used to pick up the broadcast signal. Once you prove the tuner is broken and cannot pick up the unencrypted Over the Air broadcast that the telly tax pays for then you're ok.

It is easy to find unlicensed tellies in use. I remember seeing the truck that is used to locate operating unlicensed radio receivers back in the early 70's. Enforcement of the telly tax is nothing new.


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