Volume too loud? Infringement of Copyright
Edinburgh – Metallic clang, doors creaking, bolts rolling to the ground. In the background a crackling radio, accompanying the work of mechanics and tire specialists of the English chain Kwik-Fit. A radio that plays recorded music, melodies that inadvertently reach the hearing apparatus of customers waiting for a repair. If you do not pay the fees for the related rights, this is a violation of copyright: this is the opinion of the Performing Rights Society (PRS), which is responsible for collecting and redistributing the proceeds of the royalties to the holders of the rights.
Kwik-Fit, reports Ars Technica, has been guilty of numerous violations since 1997: on as many as 250 occasions the mechanics have been caught red-handed in carrying out unauthorized radio broadcasting. A violation that, calculated for half of the chain’s 600 stores, would have cost Kwik-Fit 43 thousand euros a year: PRS is asking for almost 300 thousand to refund the damage and smooth out any dissatisfaction.
The chain of workshops, writes the BBC, has recently asked for the case to be closed: the founder of Kwik-Fit has assured that, for ten years, at his offices there has been a strict prohibition on the use of personal radios, a policy that would have fact prevented the occurrence of the violation. An argument that did not convince Judge Emslie: the case continues, there is no proof that the crime does not exist, the inspections show that it is only the irresponsible managers of the individual businesses who have not noticed the behavior of the music-loving mechanics.
It is likely that the policy unnecessarily raised in court is part of a tactic adopted by Kwik-Fit’s attorneys, aware of their inability to otherwise defend the client.
The problem, in asserting one’s reasons, lies in the extremely blurred boundaries between personal listening and radio broadcasting aimed at making the stay in a shop more pleasant: how to draw a dividing line between the radio listened to at high volume and that which in Italy do the SIAE and the SCF define ambient music, for which commercial establishments must pay fair compensation?
But there is more: even music broadcast in the workplace has a cost. The undisputed benefits that music has on employees, PRS explains, are worth almost 1220 Euros, after taxes, for 250 days, four hours a day and 16 employees. A payment to which Kwik-Fit is likely to have to resign, in the event that he manages to convince the judge that the loud volume of a croaking and greasy radio is not enough to make a radio broadcast.