Published on 18 - October - 2011
Hardware store wins fight against music licence body
Hudgies Hardware in Suffolk has won an ongoing battle with music licensing body Phonographic Performance (PPL) after the company tried to make him pay for a licence he didn't need.
Hudgies owner David Sleath was just one of several business owners targeted earlier this year by the company, which is responsible for licensing the use of recorded music on behalf of performers and record companies.
Mr Sleath doesn't play music in his store during opening hours, only switching the radio on after shutting up shop to catch the news headlines while totting up the day's takings. He was therefore surprised to receive an invoice from PPL for a licence costing £199.
"Right from the start I have made it very clear to PPL that my shop does not play music in public," he told DIY Week
. "It's a hardware shop, and I don't feel it's appropriate. I'm not playing copyright music to enhance my business in any way. I'm not running a nightclub or a pub."
He refused to pay, and was then contacted by a debt collecting agency. When he got his lawyers involved, PPL offered to discount the license to £100, but Mr Sleath continued to fight the charge, which he deemed unacceptable.
But, miraculously, just days after his story was featured in The Mail on Sunday, PPL called him up with a grovelling apology and a promise to withdraw all invoices. While Mr Sleath is "delighted" with this result, his legal team are still fighting to recover their legal costs from PPL, and there may still be other businesses out there who are paying for licenses they don't actually need, he says.
"I don't have an issue with organisations which play music having licenses, but there are many of us just playing the radio after hours for a bit of company."
He adds: "I have been subjected to a lot of aggravation, but I'm not intimidated by the legal process, it doesn't faze me. There are people out there who, faced with these letters and calls from debt collectors, would be pretty stressed about it. They may think it's cheaper to pay for one of these licenses than it is to fight it. I run a very successful business and I have the means to pay good lawyers. Today I'm basking in the warm glow of success, but it's because I was prepared to fight them. Don't mess with Hudgies Hardware!"
At the beginning of 2010, PPL lost its appeal against a ruling that licence fee increases it had imposed were excessive. In 2005 the company pushed charges up dramatically, with some businesses seeing their costs more than double overnight.
The BRC said the decision would save retailers £5m a year, and also won them a £20m refund of the excessive charges they had paid over the past five years.
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21/04/2014 00:58:00By David
I have a garage repair business we have 1 radio that is used sometimes and the public cannot hear it yet I have been hounded by PPL and RPS because we have a small shop area again you cannot hear anything. I paid PRS to get them off my back,and prior to that I did the same with PPL. However, I have just received a invoice which includes extra for late payment, how do I stand with this.
The radio is not heard and is not used to attract business I am 76 and tend to pay to save the hassle but how can this be right just to listen to a local advertising radio station.
27/09/2013 04:59:00prs/ppl fee free musicBy Bob Slingsby
Not all music attracts ppl and prs fees my boss uses imsradio.net fee free music. Its fully dj presented so sounds like a regular radio station.
18/09/2013 15:44:00By tony
Tell them f -off or see them in court.
09/09/2013 11:38:00PPL UpdateBy Robin Seccombe
It has been 4 months since they started contacting me and threatening to take me to court. During that time at least three different debt collection agencies have been phoning me, sending letters and verbally saying they would be taking me to court. That's as far as they go as they know they won't win in these cases. So don't pay them. And tell them politely what bus to catch.
09/09/2013 10:13:00PPLBy LS
I had a phone call from PPL asking a few questions about if I play music, never asked if I am aware that I need a license? Two days later got an invoice for 2500?????? crazy!!!!
26/06/2013 20:11:00PPLBy STUART JAMES
Does this include listening to talk only radio(Radio 5Live / Talk Sport)or is it just music .
11/06/2013 14:14:00PPL licenceBy Disgruntled
after being put on hold by this company, I was subjected to recorded music, I asked whether PPL had a licence to play this stuff and how much their licence fee was. we don't need one came back the reply after an embarrassed pause WTF is all that about rules are rules are rules. Not so it appears when you are the PPL
30/05/2013 11:55:00PPLBy matthew
When they phone I just tell them to F off and oddly enough I dont hear from them for ages!
30/05/2013 08:56:00music licenceBy Paps
Do not pay, ignore them.I refused to pay and told them I will see them in court.THEY CANT AFFORD TO TAKE US ALL TO COURT.
29/05/2013 14:50:00PPL LicenceBy Robin Seccombe
I'm currently being hounded by them, threatening to take me to court if I don't pay. And all because my part time accounts lady listens to her personal radio when she comes in. She is my sole employee and there is no access to the public. I do understand the need for pubs, clubs, and where they can attract customers by using music but not from tiny businesses like mine. They are sneaky vile creeps and not the champions of musicians and artistes they aspire to be. I have refused to pay and await the consequences.
19/02/2013 14:21:00PPL and PRSBy Billy Boy
Do Taxi drivers and Long distance driver employers pay a licence. If so Eddie Stobart, Tesco and the like Must have hunderds of licences. Yes or No?
03/11/2011 13:59:00BullyingBy GG
I wonder how many people have been frightened into paying in these sort of cases? I've had similar with companies who have wrongly claimed money owed on occasion calling in debt collection agencies despite lots of calls and letters explaining why they are wrong- (one was a mail order record company which I think no longer exits and the other was more recent - a very large telecoms company who I have NEVER been a customer of, but who claimed I had an account with them!) - luckily the collection agencies seem to take a lot more notice of the facts than the companies own internal departments and especialy when you offer them lots and lots of bad publicity for trying to bully money out of you that is not owed if they proceed - the fact they back pedal so quickly indicates to me that they KNOW that you don't really owe the money and were simply "trying it on" - which since so many do it, suggests that they manage to bully/frighten enough people to make it worthwhile. I wonder how many millions are made this way quietly ?
30/10/2011 08:59:00Radio License Query from kitchen buffBy The Max
Sorry to tell you kitchen buff but the radio license is only to 'receive' broadcasts from the BBC. When you 'broadcast' this yourself i.e. so the public can hear in your shop it you do need a license from PPL. If you think that's bad some premises have to also pay the PRS (Performing rights Society) as well! These are mainly pubs, clubs and bars through.
24/10/2011 12:52:00pplBy paps
Maybe it's time to take joint action to fight back.
21/10/2011 16:18:00PPLBy Carl
Local Diy Store
What a wonderful country we live in.Ive been hounded by the PPL because i play a radio in office iam the only one listening to it i thought it was about playing music to the public.Have they nothing better to do then try and make life as diffcult as possible for hard working people.
Someone has to put a stop to this Madness.
21/10/2011 15:31:00PPLBy PAPS
I to had a bill for 199, I told them that we dont play music to the public. and after taking advice from Bira will not pay. Let them take me to court!
20/10/2011 13:14:00PrsBy Apc
The BBC and all other 'broadcasters' pay Ppl and prs licences to play copyright material on their output. These licences do not cover the 're-broadcast' to the general public in other areas - you would in theory need a licence if you drive your car around with the radio on and the windows open!
18/10/2011 16:40:00PPL LicenseBy kitchen buff
Correct me if I am wrong. But if i have a radio on in the shop and only play a bbc station and I pay for a TV license then why should I have to pay PPL as well
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