Monday

21st Jun 2021

EU court exempts dentists from paying music royalties

  • Dentists can breathe a sign of relief after the ECJ exempted them from royalty payments for playing background music (Photo: Douglas Heriot)

Dentists who play music in their surgeries can breathe a sigh of relief after they were officially exempted from paying music royalties according to a ruling announced last week (15 March) by the European Court of Justice.

However, in a separate judgement, the Luxembourg-based court, whose decisions on the application of EU law are binding across the 27 member states, said that hotels which play music in their rooms will be required to pay the fees.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Italian collecting society Societa Consortie Fonografici (SCF) brought the action against Turin-based dentist Marco Del Corso, contending that by playing background music at his surgery he was liable to pay.

In its ruling, the ECJ stated that since "the patients of a dentist visit a dental practice with the sole objective of receiving treatment, as the broadcasting of phonograms is not a part of dental treatment."

European copyright law requires member states to ensure that royalties are paid to collecting societies when copyright-protected music is used "in communication with the public."

However, it defines that royalties do not need to be paid in the case of private use.

The ruling on hotel operators is the result of a separate case brought by Irish organisation Phonographic Performance Limited (PPI), a collecting society for Irish record companies, against the Irish government. PPI called on the Court to strike down the government's exemption for hotel operators from remaking royalty payments.

In a press statement, the Court said that since music in hotels is broadcast to an "indeterminate number of potential listeners" and is "of a profit-making nature" hoteliers are liable for royalty payments. It added that broadcasting music constitutes an "additional service which has an influence on the hotel's standing and, therefore, on the price of rooms."

The two rulings indicate that EU case-law on liability for royalty payments hinges on the "concept of public," which the court deems to constitute "an indeterminate number of potential listeners and a fairly large number of persons," alongside the question of a profit motive.

The hotel judgement is expected to lead to further action by musical collecting societies against businesses which play music.

EU to delay decision on Sony and Universal EMI take-over

The battle for the future of the music publishing industry is set to run until the summer after the European Commission revealed its plan to delay judgment on the take-over of British music publishing giant EMI until August.

No ban on second-hand software, says EU court

EU copyright law does not ban the re-sale of computer programme licences, according to a ruling on Wednesday by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

NGOs: Leaked EU biomass reform 'denial of science'

Green groups called on the European Commission to remove forest biomass from the Renewable Energy Directive, arguing that the proposal leaked this week shows a "clear denial of science" and "dangerous greenwashing".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines
  2. Next week is time for EU to finally lead on rule of law
  3. Austria blocking EU sanctions on Belarus banks
  4. Number of people forcibly displaced reaches historic high
  5. Three-quarters of EU citizens support vaccines, survey finds
  6. NGOs: Leaked EU biomass reform 'denial of science'
  7. US and Russia restart talks on cyber and nuclear war
  8. Europe needs to help sea rescues, say NGOs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us