Play Stairway to Heaven in a Shop? Pay up!

According to the Macclesfield Express news, "music shop boss Steve Kowalski has been told he will have to pay to play if his customers want to try out his instruments before they buy."

He's been told "that if anyone played a riff – an identifiable piece of music – he was in breach of copyright and was breaking the law."

Read the full story at

- via Wolfgang

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>He's been told "that if anyone played a riff – an identifiable piece of music – he was in breach of copyright and was breaking the law."<

Reminds me of a scene out of a Spyper Robinson book. Had to do with this very subject..
Since there are only four original themes, eight whole notes and a handful of beat patterns that can be used before it degenerates into noise as interpeted by the human ear. It is inevitable that the patterns we recognize as music will be repeated over and over through the years with only slight variations. Therefore the originators of these melodies created them long ago.
Find them and I will happily pay them the royolities.

It's ridiculous to the point I initially thought the call may have been a prank call - until I read that the PRS had aknowledged it.

>It's ridiculous to the point<

Ridiculous is right. Whats a guy to do while his wife shops? We go to the music store and talk trades for the latest guitars hanging on the racks, swap a few licks and have a jam session with whoever comes in. What's poor Dave of Dave's Music [where I shop] to do? Put out a jar that we can chip into everytime we play 8 bars or more?
This could also be applied to Bars/Pubs and the cover bands that play in them. Here in Oklahoma Bar bands don't pay royalities for the tunes they cover and the Bars don't have a permit issued by ASCAP or BMI.
Although if you cross the river to play in Texas you better have a musicians union card and be playing for union scale or you and your equipment won't make it back across the river without getting roughed up.

Going slightly off topic on this, I remember some stores (Hobgoblin in London was one) used to fine people who played their top ten list of tunes - i.e. the ones everyone thinks they can play, like Smoke on the Water and Stairway to Heaven.

This was purely because the staff had to hear the same tunes played, often badly, dozens of times a day.

As I understand the UK copyright laws, you need at least ten people to hear it to become a public performance, and therefore liable to copyright fees. The same issue was raised a few years ago over radios at work. More than the set number of people listening = copyright fees payable. I do not remember anyone actually paying up or being taken to court over it though.

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