Business still waiting to get the message on fees

IT has been 12 months since copyright authorities Australasian Performing Right Association and Phonographic Performance Company of Australia moved to charge companies for the use of music on telephone on-hold services.

It would appear, however, that the message isn’t getting through, as many businesses remain un-certain of their obligations.

Further claims that the APRA and the PPCA are not enforcing licences have undermined any serious campaign to get businesses on board.

Messages on Hold Australia managing director Kym Illman said even the royalty-free music Messages on Hold was utilising had attracted licence fees.

“When we first saw this we though we’ve got background music but this doesn’t affect us because you buy this and it says royalty free,” Mr Illman said.

“Then APRA said the company was one of their members and it said ‘your clients will have to pay us’.”

This move prompted Messages on Hold to launch an exhaustive search to find music that could be used on its on-hold messages without incurring a fee.

“We found two libraries in Japan that don’t use APRA,” Mr Illman said.

Central to the issue is APRA’s decision to define music played on hold as constituting a public performance.

“We’ve got clients that have a radio jingle written by a composer who is a member of APRA and so when they’re playing it on hold it’s deemed a public performance,” Mr Illman said.

He said very few businesses knew the fine details of the APRA and PPCA licence fees.

“APRA is also a toothless tiger,” Mr Illman said.

“There are no backdated penalties for companies and unless you’re contacted you don’t have to pay.”

And there is still some concern about APRA double dipping on fees.

“The radio already pays a fee to broadcast music then businesses plays it down the phone and they have to pay a fee again,” Mr Illman said.

APRA director general performance licencing, Dean Ormston, said APRA was taking an educative approach to the new licences.

“The last thing we want to be seen to be doing is suing a number of small businesses,” he said.

“From our perspective the take up has been good.

“What has amazed us is how many people have accepted that messages on hold is something you now need a licence for.”

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