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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: Lost royalties?
By PlasmaBomb on 10/23/2009 3:39:51 PM , Rating: 5
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Birthday_to_You

How the hell was copyright granted on a song that had already been in existence for at least 23 years?

Also wouldn't the copyright belong to whoever first published it, since the book would have been copyrighted? (Children's Praise and Worship, Byers et al., 1928)

Also the copyright being valid for 95 years is stupid.

The purpose of copyrights is
quote:
to promote the progress of science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.


Having it set at 95 years promotes sitting on your behind collecting royalties.


RE: Lost royalties?
By JediJeb on 10/23/2009 5:59:24 PM , Rating: 2
It is true though. There was a story a few years ago about summer camps having to be careful about what song they sang around campfires as several were copyrighted and if caught they would have to pay royalities. I doubt many true artist would want their music so controlled, but when corporations and investors are allowed to obtain copyrights to others works ( just like Michael Jackson buying the rights to the Beatles Music) this is the type of thing that happens. Copyright law needs to be reformed so that only the author of a work, can own copyright to the material. Even if this was for the life of the artist, I would be ok with that, just as long as others could not profit from someone elses works.


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