Impact of changes to copyright law


It is an infringement of copyright to broadcast copyright works in public without consent from the owner. Broadcasts are copyright works, as are films and the individual works created and used within the broadcast – the work of directors, script writers, graphic artists, designers, actors and so on.

For many years, the broadcast of films on television in a public place – such as a hotel foyer, lounge, gym, reception and bar areas (not bedrooms) – without entry fee was exempt (Section 72, Copyright Designs and Patents Act).

Previously only the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) have collected licence fees from hospitality venues for these public broadcasts.

In its new form, Section 72 leaves the broadcast itself exempt but not the rights of the owners of films and, (as was previously the case before the amendment but not enforced) the rights of individual copyright owners (see the list above) whose material is used in the broadcast. 

So far as we are aware, only the Motion Picture Licensing Company, a collection society, has asked that the rights of the producers of films and programmes it represents be licensed. However, other individual rights holders and societies may do so in the future.

MPLC Licence

Please note, an MPLC licence is not required for:

  • Broadcast in hotel bedrooms or
  • SKY Sports and dedicated news channels, if televisions are locked to these channels.

 Other broadcasts on the BBC and ITV, satellite, cable channels etc. would require an MPLC licence.

 However, we advise that you contact the Intellectual Property Office, which has a general online enquiry service, or take advice, as to the interpretation of the new law and how it should be applied in their specific circumstances. 

General IPO guidance can be found here:

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