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PRS for Music: Introducing New Licensing Schemes for the Religious Sector


PRS for Music: Introducing New Licensing Schemes for the Religious Sector

PRS for Music is seeking input on new licensing schemes for the religious sector, proposing two distinct licenses: 'Places of Worship License' and 'Digital Worship Licence.' The first aims to replace the existing PRS Church License which was launched in 2001, becoming more inclusive and adaptable to various faiths and activities within religious buildings. The second is introduced in response to feedback from customers, offering more targeted digital music licenses to meet specific licensing needs. It will replace the Limited Online Music License (LOML) at the end of 2023. The goal is to create user-friendly, inclusive schemes, encompassing various faiths and expanding the use of religious buildings for diverse activities.

PRS for Music is conducting a public consultation in this regard. The consultation invites feedback from customers, members, and stakeholders to ensure fairness and proportionality in implementing these changes, with oversight from the Copyright Tribunal. The consultation period spans four weeks, from September 13, 2023, to October 11, 2023, and all responses received before the closing date will be reviewed. PRS for Music values the feedback and opinions of those involved in the religious sector to shape these new licensing schemes.


The rationale for the new 'Digital Worship License'

The proposal for the new 'Digital Worship License' is motivated by the need to adapt to changes in how religious organizations use music online. The proposal for the new 'Digital Worship License' stems from the recognition that the current Limited Online Music License (LOML), in place for over 15 years, no longer meets the evolving needs of these organizations, which now frequently stream worship services for remote viewing by congregations at home. A customer survey conducted earlier this year revealed a strong demand for a more tailored licensing scheme that better aligns with how they currently use music and how they plan to use it in the future. Consequently, the decision was made to retire the LOML by the end of 2023 and introduce specialized licenses tailored to specific user groups.


The Proposed 'Digital Worship Licence'

The proposed Digital Worship License will offer a comprehensive set of rights, including communication to the public, mechanical rights for commercial works, and coverage of MCPS production music works and sound recordings. Survey results indicated that customers, particularly those with less than a year of licensing experience, highly value music but often lacked confidence in choosing the right license. To address this, the new license aims to simplify the process, making it easier for customers to understand and efficiently allocate royalties to members while meeting the evolving needs of religious organizations using copyright music online.


The rationale for the proposal of the new ‘Places of Worship Licence’

The proposal for the new 'Places of Worship License' is driven by the need to update the existing PRS Church License, which has not been reviewed for over two decades. During this time, there have been changes in how music is used within religious buildings and the way communities interact with it. The current PRS Church License, available exclusively through CCLI, covers general music use within church premises, including up to 6 live concerts or recitals annually, as well as on-site cafes and bookshops. However, if a church wishes to host more than 6 concerts per year, it is categorized as a concert venue and must obtain a supplementary license from PPL PRS Ltd. The current fees for the PRS Church License are determined based on congregation size and range from bands AH to I, with a starting annual fee of £29.28.


The Proposed 'Places of Worship Licence'

The proposed Places of Worship License aims for inclusivity across all faiths while simplifying the licensing process. It allows religious communities to cover various purposes, including events in associated halls, under a single license. This extension of coverage from congregations to the broader community means that the license encompasses general music use, up to 6 concerts or recitals within the religious building and associated halls, as well as bookshops and cafes, provided they are not commercially run by third parties. It does not cover third-party commercially run activities, such as fitness classes or classical concerts.


The new rates for this license are based on average weekly attendance rather than congregation size, offering a more accurate reflection of attendance levels at various religious activities. The rates are divided into bands, with band A further separated to accommodate smaller average weekly attendances. Reporting set lists for the 6 concerts and recitals covered by the license is a requirement. While some customers may experience rate increases during the transition from the PRS Church License, the inclusion of the wider community under this license simplifies licensing for many religious organizations, requiring only one license for their music use

The new licenses offered by PRS for Music cover various aspects:

PRS for Music Grant of Rights includes:

  • Communication to the public of PRS repertoire.

  • Communication to the public of Production Music Sound Recordings.

  • Mechanical rights for MCPS-affiliated repertoire.

The Places of Worship License continues to cover religious organizations for:

  • General music use.

  • Hosting up to 6 concerts or recitals within the religious building and associated halls.

  • Including bookshops and cafes under the license, provided they are not third-party commercially run ventures.

  • However, it does not cover commercially run third-party activities, such as fitness classes or classical concerts organized by third parties, which require a separate license from PPLPRS Ltd.

The Digital Worship License covers religious organizations for:

  • Streaming worship services, funerals, and weddings on their own website and third-party platforms in video or audio format.

  • Activities associated with worship (except excluded activities), like sharing worship service links via email or occasional meetings related to worship on third-party platforms such as Zoom or Teams.


About PRS for Music

PRS for Music, formerly known as The MCPS-PRS Alliance, is a British music copyright collective composed of two collection societies: Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) and the Performing Right Society (PRS). It manages collective rights for musical works on behalf of its 160,000 members. Formed in 1997 and rebranded as PRS for Music in 2009, it represents songwriters, composers, and music publishers, ensuring they receive royalties whenever their music is publicly performed or reproduced, including physical products like CDs and digital downloads.

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