The country’s 5,000-plus hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may have to fork out about €3.8m a year to the music industry for providing a radio, television or CD player in guest rooms.
A court ruling could also see the State pay royalties for each prison cell with a TV or radio. However, dentists, who are charged €76.83, would be exempt as practitioners “do not make a profit” playing background music in waiting rooms.
A European Court decision yesterday was described as “outrageous” by hoteliers, who can expect to pay €1 per room per week to Phonographic Performance Ireland (PPI).
“This will add another layer of costs on hotels and guesthouses at a time when many are struggling to survive,” said Tim Fenn of the Irish Hotels Federation.
The PPI, representing the country’s music industry including recording companies, had challenged a law exempting hotels from paying royalties, other than for their bars and restaurants.
The State defended the action in the High Court but the matter was referred to the European Court.
PPI chief executive Dick Doyle said the industry was very pleased with the court’s decision. “The result is so absolutely in our favour and will mean extra remuneration for artists and producers,” he said.
The PPI now plans to press the Government to change legislation which would & allow royalties to be collected for music being played in 74,500 guest rooms nationwide.
Mr Doyle said proposed laws being sought would not cover holiday homes but emphasised the issue of the country’s 3,200 prison cells “will be discussed” with the Government. The PPI would not be seeking to backdate the fees, he said.
The PPI sought €1 per room per week, which Mr Doyle said worked out at 14c a night “for unlimited access to music”. Last year, the PPI collected €10m in fees from anyone playing music from dance classes to fashion shows, doctors surgeries, museums, cafes, parish halls, and airlines. Collecting from hotels could increase their take by one third.
However, Mr Fenn said: “It’s ridiculous to classify the use of a television or radio in a hotel bedroom as being a public performance, and so subject to royalty payments. Hotel bedrooms are not public areas and should not be treated as such. Hotels have always considered guest bedrooms to be the private space of their guests, and this should be the case in relation to this type of charge.”
However, the court had good news for dentists. It ruled they did not need to pay royalties as the number of people who heard music in waiting rooms was not large and the dentist did not make a profit from it.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation said it was studying the court decision and would discuss it with the Attorney General before the matter returned to the High Court for a final decision.
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