Changes to the Copyrights Designs and Patents Act 1988 now mean that the showing of copyrighted films and television programmes in public require a Licence.
The circumstances in which a Licence is required will vary from pub to pub but in essence, if you have a television on in a bar or staff workplace and it is playing copyright material e.g. a televised film, documentary or drama then it will be necessary for you to obtain a Licence from MPLC.
If however your pub television only broadcasts live sport or rolling news from channels such as Sky Sport, BT Sport, BBC News, Sky News or Channel 4 then no Licence is required.
In practice, because of the exemption that applies to televised sport and news channels, many pubs would not in the ordinary course of business require an MPLC Licence however, great care will need to be taken to ensure that inadvertently televisions are not left on or switched over so as to broadcast copyrighted material. Remember this applies in respect of staff work areas.
An MPLC Licence would be required in addition to any Licences you may require from the BBC, Performing Rights Society (PRS), Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) or Sky/BT.
If, however, you genuinely feel that the only televised broadcast which will take place will be of sporting fixtures or of news, then a written policy should be prepared to confirm that this is to be the case in your premises. You will need to brief all members of staff to ensure that they do not inadvertently change to a channel broadcasting copyrighted material.
MPLC will be carrying out spot checks on premises to ensure that no copyright broadcast is taking place, much in the same way that Sky, PRS and PPL already carry out spot checks.
The cost of a Licence is not particularly high, £95.00 per year for a typical pub, although this could rise to £190.00 per year for larger establishments.
For further information, please contact Andrew Cochrane.