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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am in the process of setting up a choir, which will take

Resolved Question:

I am in the process of setting up a choir, which will take subscription fees and be run for-profit. I want to sing arrangements of popular chart songs as part of the choir, and have read conflicting things about PRS, copyright requirements etc.

The choir itself will only perform for free, and is more of a club than a serious musical project (all amateur singers, who are paying to attend rehearsals, social events etc.). Could this be deemed educational/fair use? There are also ready-made arrangements of some popular songs online, but again I have read conflicting things and nothing seems to sum up exactly what I would need to do to stay above board.

- What would be required in terms of PRS/copyright to hold rehearsals using popular songs/arrangements bought from third parties?
- What would be required in terms of PRS/copyright to arrange popular songs myself?
- If the choirs were paid for a performance or were selling tickets in future, does this change anything?
- Any other copyright stuff I might have missed?

What do you think?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

There are a number of requirements but they are all generally easy enough to deal with with the exception of creating arrangements yourself which is a little more involved.

Joshua :

do know if the venues you propose to perform at will hold their own PRS licences?

Customer:

Hi there - most have their own PRS licenses

Customer:

Same for rehearsals as well, which will be held at these venues (usually church halls) - from what I have seen most have PRS licenses

Joshua :

Thanks. in respect of any printed material you use to sing from, a separate copy will be required for each of the choir members. Photocopying music would be an infringment of copyright for the material for any subsisting copyright on the same.

Joshua :

you will need to consider registering with PRS for your rehersal venue as a performance of music outside of the home is considered to be a licensable activity.

Customer:

Does this also cover lyrics? I am thinking of using audio recordings of bought arrangements, so members don't need to read from the score

Joshua :

unfortunately it does. it has been shown that even using a relatively small quote from lyrics can for the copyright infringement if you do not have the authorisation of the copyright holder so in the assumption you would propose to perform significant portions of the song or more likely the entire song, this would certainly be something that would be caught by licensing requirements

Customer:

OK - so assuming venues are registered with PRS, what steps would I need to take to use arrangements/lyrics that had been bought?

Customer:

*from a third party

Customer:

and then, those I arranged myself?

Joshua :

in respect of any arrangements you propose to make yourself, it is first necessary to contact the copyright holder to obtain permission to create an arrangement of the original work. If the copyright holder is content for you to do so which will often be the case, you would typically be required to sign an agreement which in particular deals with royalty rights which can then be registered with PRS. the may also be a fee payable to the copyright holder for a licence to create the arrangement

Customer:

OK - I have access to a number of third party arrangements I have bought. Would I need to register myself/the choir with PRS to account for those?

Customer:

With lyrics, could we obtain these online and reference the source? i.e. Lyrics obtained from www.lyrics.com...

Joshua :

if the venue you propose to perform at has a licence then you will perform under that licence and the venue owner may or may not require a fee to do so.

Customer:

does the above count for rehearsals too? i.e. if the rehearsal venue has a license, it is OK to perform bought arrangements under that license?

Joshua :

if you are performing at a venue that does not hold a licence, then you are responsible to ensure that the licence you hold with PRS allows that performance. I believe they have licences that allow for performances on a performance by performance basis whereby you effectively pay as you go or licences which allow performance is generally. PRS will be Able to confirm pricing options and so with you

Joshua :

a licence is required for rehearsals as well is is is deemed to be a public performance for the purposes of licensing. as above, there are a variety of different licensing options available that is the case of choosing the best option and price that fits your requirements

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

With lyrics, could we obtain these online and reference the source? i.e. Lyrics obtained from www.lyrics.com...

Customer:

or would we need permission to reproduce these? could we link to them, rather than providing a copy?

Joshua :

You would need a licence from PRS. Lyrics cannot be reproduced without the copyright holder without licence through PRS.

Joshua :

It can be covered though via PRS licence.

Customer:

so lyrics can be licensed from PRS too?

Joshua :

Yes they cover lyrics and musical notation.

Joshua :

is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

OK, so all in all then, is it fair to say the following:


- I should get in touch with PRS about licensing to cover rehearsals/performances to cover those instances that are not covered by the venues own license.



- To reproduce lyrics or score I would need consent from the copyright holder/PRS



- To do my own arrangements, I would need permission + a deal with the copyright holder in respect of royalties



- Bought arrangements from third parties would be fine to use, so long as they are covered on the PRS side by the venue/myself if the venue isn't covered


Joshua :

I should get in touch with PRS about licensing to cover rehearsals/performances to cover those instances that are not covered by the venues own license YES


- To reproduce lyrics or score I would need consent from the copyright holder/PRS Normally covered by PRS providing you buy the copyrighted work not photocopy it. To copy it you would need express consent which would not normally be given



- To do my own arrangements, I would need permission + a deal with the copyright holder in respect of royalties YES



- Bought arrangements from third parties would be fine to use, so long as they are covered on the PRS side by the venue/myself if the venue isn't covered YES

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer:

OK, I think that's everything. Thank you so much for your assistance - much appreciated!

Joshua :

A pleasure. I hope all goes well with your new choir

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer:

One last thing - is there a way I can ask you questions personally again, should anything else crop up?

Joshua :

Yes of course. You can reach me via the below link:

Joshua :

http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-joshua/

Customer:

Excellent. Many thanks!

Joshua :

Best wishes

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