Copyright and licensing
The frequently asked questions below relate to copyright and licensing questions in relation to dance teaching and the RAD syllabus in the UK.
What’s a PRS Licence? Do I need one?
PRS stands for ‘Performing Right Society’, an organization known as a ‘collecting society’ that collects money on behalf of composers and publishers. To play music in public (e.g. in a dance school), you need a PRS licence, unless all the music that you play is out of copyright, or not licensed by the PRS. This is such an unlikely situation as to be almost impossible: even Happy Birthday is currently considered as a copyright work, and requires a PRS licence when sung in public.
Do I need a PRS licence for my RAD classes?
Teachers should obtain a ‘blanket’ licence from PRS to cover their music use for all classes, including RAD syllabus. Although some RAD syllabus music is out of copyright, or is owned by RAD, a lot of it isn’t. The RAD itself has to have a PRS licence for the same reason.
I only use a small proportion of non-RAD music in my syllabus classes. Can I apply to PRS for a discount?
No. Currently PPL and PRS work on a ‘blanket licence’ scheme. If you teach classes without music, or where you know that all the music is non-copyright (including anything from your own music collection) you can exclude these from your licence.
I always used to get a waiver for my RAD classes from PRS – why can’t I now?
In the past, there were some cases, where some teachers, in some countries, some of the time, were arguably eligible for a waiver on some classes, but the position was constantly changing, under review, and subject to anomalies and problems. This has not been the case for over 15 years, and teachers should obtain licences for classes.
What’s a PPL licence? Do I need one?
PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) collect royalties on behalf of performers and record companies who belong to PPL (almost all of them).
- If you never use recorded music, you won’t need a PPL licence.
- If in some of your classes you use RAD recordings exclusively (an RAD recording will have ℗ RAD Enterprises Ltd on it on the disc label – the p in a circle stands for ‘phonographic copyright’) then you may exclude those classes on your PPL form, because the RAD is not a member of PPL, and PPL do not collect on our behalf.
PPL do not collect money on behalf of composers – you still need a PRS licence to cover the rights of composers.
What is a ProDub Licence? Do I need one?
A ProDub Licence is a joint licence issued by PPL and PRS for Music, which for an annual fee gives you the right to make copies of music on to an iPod, blank CDs, a laptop, MP3 player and so on for use in your classes. Although you can transfer your CDs to an iPod or similar device for your personal domestic use, and the terms of some online music services such as iTunes permit you to keep copies of the music on a number of machines at once, as soon as the use of the music becomes commercial (such as in a dance class where people pay to attend), you must pay a licence fee to do this. If you use an iPod or similar digital music storage device in your class, you will need a ProDub licence.
What about ‘educational use’ or ‘fair use’? I’m a teacher, why do I have to buy a licence?
The notion of ‘educational’ or ‘fair’ use of music only applies in non-commercial educational contexts, and only when the music is being used in order to teach about music. Dance teaching in the private sector is viewed as a commercial activity, for which music licences are required.
I’ve already bought the CD. Why should I have to pay again?
Buying a CD only entitles you to use it for your own private or domestic purposes. Playing it in public in a dance class is a public commercial use of the music and hence incurs a licence fee. This is the meaning of the copyright statements on the CDs that you buy, which state that ‘unauthorized public performance’ is prohibited.
If I have to buy a PRS licence, aren’t RAD ‘double-dipping’ – collecting once on the sale of CDs, and then on income from PRS?
No. RAD Enterprises Ltd are not publisher members of PRS, and therefore do not collect any income via PRS. Even if we were publisher members, the amount collected would be negligible. The PRS licences that you buy are to cover you for music that you use which is not our copyright.
Why do I have to have a licence now? I’ve never had one before
Music licences have been in force for many decades, they are nothing new.
Why doesn’t the RAD ensure that all syllabus music is RAD-owned, so that teachers can waive their PRS and PPL fees?
Two main reasons: firstly, it is impossible to maintain such a principle – it would only need one copyright claim from a composer or publisher to unsettle the entire system. Secondly, to avoid copyright altogether would mean a syllabus that contained only 19th century works and unknown compositions. Even if that were possible, it would not be very interesting for the student if a teacher never used anything but copyright-free music, and music licenses are designed to allow teachers to use what they like.
- For further information on licences contact PRS for Music (leisure sport and fitness section) or PPL (dance section).
- For a list of related organizations around the world, see this list of international collecting societies.
- For information about legal aspects of using music for choreography, we recommend the chapter on this topic in Look Before You Leap, and Boosey & Hawkes' guide to licensing music for dance.
- For information on copyright generally, see this Copyright guide from JISC.