BHA Updated guidance on copyright law in the hospitality industry

Last year UK copyright law was amended to harmonise with European law. This change affects the exception in UK law which allows free to air television, such as the BBC and ITV, to be broadcast to the public, for example in hotel foyers (section 72 Copyright Designs and Patents Act).

The broadcast itself remains exempt but not the rights of ‘authors’, the copyright owners who own other rights included in the programmes broadcast. There are many such owners, such as directors, scriptwriters, designers, actors and the owners of films.

Previously only the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) have collected licence fees from hospitality venues for these television broadcasts, now all copyright owners can require a licence and payment.

In practice hospitality venues cannot possibly know who these rights holders are or indeed what rights they licensed to the broadcasters in the first place. Nevertheless, by broadcasting they may be risking of copyright infringement. During consultations this was raised with the Intellectual Property Office.

The BHA has been approached by the Motion Picture Licensing Company which is a collection society, rather like the PRS and PPL, only for films. It is suggesting tariffs be payable on an annual basis for the films they represent (largely Hollywood studios). So far no other ‘authors’ or representative bodies, such as Equity and the Musicians Union, have raised the question of rights with the BHA.

The BHA will meet with MPLC and discuss with the IPO and broadcasters. In the meantime, we would welcome the views of any members who are affected by this change or who may have been approached by the MPLC.

IPO guidance can be found here