Copyright Connundrum

We've been asked to sing a song from a recently-released movie at a ticketed concert.  The organisers have sent us scores which they have arranged themselves and, when I asked if they had the correct permissions in place, responded that 'we don't need permission to arrange it as it's covered under the PRS for live performance'.  

This does not chime with my understanding of the situation (perhaps I am overly cautious?) and I would welcome your guidance.  Thank you

1 comment


Hi Caroline. We're both in the UK (just for the benefit of other members reading this). I think your organisers might have got the situation wrong, although it isn't entirely black and white.

The fact that they've created scores is almost certainly a copyright infringement unless they've done it through a service like ArrangeMe. The fact that they've created an 'arrangement' may or may not be a problem. If it is substantially the same as the original, it might not qualify as an 'arrangement'. That's how covers bands perform copyright material without getting permission for each individual song.

At the end of the day, if it's the organisers' responsibility to get licences and permissions in place then if I were you, I would take part and enjoy it. If they've told you that they have the necessary permissions in place for the performance, I don't see why you shouldn't take them at face value.

And finally, I'll whack a huge caveat on everything I've just said. I'm not a media lawyer and the law relating the copyright and music licensing is complicated (not to mention massively outdated for our digital world!).

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