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Do I Need A PRS Music Licence For Video Live Streaming?

Updated: Mar 24

Do I Need A PRS Music Licence For Live Streaming?

Do I need a PRS music licence when video live streaming published music?

In this article we look specifically at web broadcasting or streaming published music online as part of your live streamed video event. There is much confusion and mis-information about this topic so StreamWorks have spoken to PRS with a view to addressing them. If you own a venue or play published music in your workplace you will need a licence. See more here.

We will refer to this as broadcasting as 'streaming' can also be associated with watching Netflix etc.

What is PRS?

PRS for Music Limited is a British music copyright collective, made up of two collection societies: the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society and the Performing Right Society. It undertakes collective rights management for musical works on behalf of its 160,000 members.

Do I need a music licence?

This will depend on a number of factors and where and how you are web broadcasting. Let's explore these.

Broadcasting ONLY royalty free music to any destination - No you do not need a licence.

Broadcasting published music to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo - You do not need a licence to stream music to these platforms as they self regulate.

Broadcasting published music directly to a website - You do need a licence to stream music to your or your clients website unless you are embedding a stream from YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo.

Broadcasting published music to Zoom, Teams or other similar platforms - You do need a licence.

Broadcasting or relaying an event that includes published music to another nearby venue where the public are physically attending. (Example a funeral live stream where another room is being used as an overflow space.) - The venue themselves will need to obtain a license if it does not already have one. You will also need one if you are not broadcasting through one of the platforms listed above.

Is there not a loophole or way around it?

Yes but it's not an easy one. To avoid paying the fee, you can identify artists that aren’t covered by PRS and arrange directly with them permission to use their music. PRS is a copyright agreement that covers thousands of artists. If you can find an artist that is not part of PRS, arrange a fee to cover you broadcasting their original work, then you can use it. We would suggest you draw up a contract outlining what they are letting you use and for how long etc.

What licence do I need and how much will it cost?

There are different licences available but for web based video broadcasting of corporate or consumer events you will most likely need an INTERACTIVE WEBCASTING Limited Online Music Licence (LOML).

The cost for this will depend on your estimated annual gross turnover and is valid for a company who turn over anything from £12,000 to £200,000. For most small streaming companys this will be around £225 per year including VAT.

PRS will guide you through this process. You can apply for a licence and check more here.

Do I need a PRS licence?

What happens if I don't buy a licence despite needing one?

If you need a licence and don't pay for one then you may well be fined. A fine will be based on how long you have gone unlicensed, how many people have watched your streams.

How much is a PRS fine?

There is not a lot of info on how fines are calculated.

Here’s a couple of historic examples of fines reported in the UK media.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council were given a fine of £2000 for not having a PRS License for an event that happened on their land in 2018.

In 2015 Socialite Bar in London was fined £19k (£4000 in damages and £15,000 in court fees) for not having a license.

The owner of Weston Mill Hotel in Devon was ordered to pay £3200 in fines for operating their venue without a license for their music.

What if I just upload the film and don't stream it? Do I need one then?

The same rules apply to video on-demand as they do for live broadcast. If the content is sat on a platform that self regulates then no licence is needed.

FAQs and assumptions

If the venue I am streaming at have a licence am I not covered by that?

No. The venues licence be it a bar, church, theatre etc is only covered for that space itself and not any broadcasting that leaves the room.

If I only stream royalty free music do I need a licence?

No. That's fine.

I am only streaming to the internet not TV, surely I don't need a licence?

Yes you do.

Further questions about eligibility should be directed to PRS. You can contact them here.

We have written this blog in good faith after discussing the key issues that affect us with PRS. We would always advise you speak to PRS directly if you have any concerns.

StreamWorks, part of solo16 Broadcast provide single to multi-camera live streaming services across the UK.


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