Corner shop worker told to stop singing in her store - or pay for a performing licence

Daily Mail
14.10.2009
By Daily Mail Reporter

Music police have told a grandmother to stop singing behind the counter of the corner shop where she works - or pay for a licence.

Sandra Burt began serenading customers at the A & T Food Store in Clackmannan, near Stirling, after the owners were contacted by The Performing Right Society and told they would have to pay an £80 annual fee to keep the radio on in the shop.

They decided not to bother and now 56-year-old Sandra sings tracks ‘from anyone from The Noisettes, to the Rolling Stones’ as she stocks the shelves and weighs customers’ purchases.

One delighted regular has even compared her voice to Amy Winehouse.

Now, however, the PRS, which collects royalties on behalf of music industry bosses and artists, has told her that her ’spontaneous outbursts of joy’ constitute live public performance, and she could have to pay annual fees of ‘four figures’.

Gareth Kelly, music sales advisor for PRS, said that Mrs Burt was getting up to ‘mischief’ to get round the radio licence fee.

He said: ‘Using any copyright material in your store, without paying for it, is illegal.

‘It doesn’t matter whether you’re singing a Robbie Williams track, or listening to a Robbie Williams track, you still have to pay for it.

‘She could be fined for not having a live performance licence, and if the fine isn’t paid, then she could potentially be taken to court.’

The PRS said that Mrs Burt could be judged to be giving daily performances, which would require individual daily licences, taking the annual cost up to ‘four figures’.

Mrs Burt, a Rolling Stones fan, said she was shocked by the attitude of the PRS.

‘I sing all the time, and I often don’t even know I’m doing it. It’s just a spontaneous, happy thing.

‘They’d have to put tape over my mouth to stop me singing these songs. Even if they threatened to take me to court, I don’t think I could stop singing. I’m just a naturally happy person.

It was really just for the staff. It is not like we were putting on a concert.  The rules have been in for a while but the PRS have been targeting small shops recently, and with the recent huge increase in the drinks licence to stump up it is just too much to pay extra for.

Mrs Burt, who has worked in the store for four years, added: ‘I have always sung in the shop but it is so quiet now without the radio on, that I’m singing all the time.

‘I’ll basically just sing anything that comes into my head, and then Dale will start singing along with me, and people in the shop will say ‘Oh I know that song too’, and they’ll start singing along too. It’s a happy store.

‘It’s ridiculous. What’s the world coming to when Big Brother wants to charge you for singing a wee tune?’

Full article

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