Film Licensing

Many if not most of our member care and nursing home providers are being directly emailed by the Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) hoping to persuade them to sign up on a per resident per bed annual fee to watch films in the communal areas of their care homes. They find the cost being charged to be far too high and for example in a 50 bed home it can nearly reach £500 per anum and this in the context of the majority of residents not even watching films. There is no offer of charging for a small number of residents you know will watch films --- its and all or nothing offering!
A recent response from MPLC to a member is below:

"Further to your enquiry I can confirm that PPL and MPLC are two separate licensing bodies and do not bear any working relation, other than that they are both copyright licensing agencies.

  • PPL represents the UK record industry, licensing the use of sound recordings (CDs, tapes, records etc.) on behalf of record companies and performers.
  • The Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) licences the use of home entertainment DVD/Blu-ray and internet downloads on behalf of over nine hundred (900) Hollywood and independent film studios together with TV producers, including 20th Century Fox, MGM, Lionsgate, Paramount and Universal Pictures. 

It is disappointing that you find the cost prohibitive as it is MPLC’s goal to encourage, not restrict, the legal use of home Videos/DVDs. The MPLC Umbrella Licence covers unlimited use of film throughout the year and is costed on the total number of beds because this gives us and our studio partners the best indication of the total number of residents who have access to viewing the films throughout the year. Broken down to a monthly amount this works out to less than 75 pence a month per resident (including VAT)." 

Sound Licensing

A company called PRS (I can find no record of what PRS stands for) and another called PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) represent songwriters, composers and music publishers, and collect royalties on their behalf whenever their music is publicly performed. This includes performances of either live and recorded music or music from TV and radio, in premises from concert halls to corner shops.
When is a licence required?
Licences are required when recorded music (including from the television and radio) is played in public. There is no statutory definition of "played in public" but the Courts have given guidance on its meaning and have ruled that it is any playing of music outside of a domestic setting - so, for example, playing recorded music at a workplace is considered playing in public – that would cover for example your chef having the radio on!
The good news is that PRS have an exemption for care homes:
"PRS for Music does not charge for music use in residential homes, where the use is consistent with normal domestic music use. For example, the following uses would not be charged:

  • Background music use in bedrooms, flats and communal areas
  • Informal performances of music
  • Formal performances of music where no related charge is made to the residents."

"Any music use not consistent with normal domestic use remains chargeable.  This may include formal performances where a charge is made to the residents, or use of hold music on telephone systems.
In addition, PRS for Music does not make a charge for a licence for any music use in a hospice, refuge or similar premises, “where the music use is consistent with the activity of the centre."
Firstly let me say it is entirely a local management choice as to whether you buy a film license from MPLC or for some sound performances a license from PRS or indeed PPL. The Association is not advising one route against another --- I am simply providing information which you can use to clarify your own situation. It would however be wrong of me not to alert you to the down side of choosing to be or remain unlicensed.
What happens if you don't have a licence?
This from a legal advisor: If a business requires a PPL or an MPLC licence but does not obtain one, the business will be infringing copyright and may ultimately face legal proceedings. Those proceedings would be in respect of copyright infringement liability. Legal proceedings are however, very much a last resort. A court can order the business to pay its outstanding licence fees plus legal costs and issue a Court Order known as an injunction to stop the business playing recorded music until this is done.
Alternatives on the Film Licensing side?
One C&SW member has decided that in future they will adopt a company policy of only screening films that are being shown on TV which will be covered by their TV licence. They will base film showings on the TV schedules which are exempt. They informed MPLC that they are not in a position to pay 75p per month per resident for people who have no interest in, or due to their dementia lack the capacity, are unable to sit and watch a film.  They go on to highlight for MPLC “I am sure you are aware of the cost pressures on social care ---- we have to use our resources carefully with our entertainment budget being spent on activities that residents actually want to participate in”.
From a C&SW position I have informed MPLC that the Brd of Directors view in relation to this matter was that the Association should simply inform members of their rights and responsibilities in the matter of film and sound licensing which this note does.
If you need further info or help on this issue please get back to me and I will try to be of assistance. In the meantime I suggest you respond to any sound of film licensing organisation thanking them for their information and stating your Care Association has informed you of your responsibilities in this field and you are acting accordingly. If they seek to enquire as to what “accordingly” means I suggest you refer them to me.