Car-servicing specialist Kwik Fit is the latest organisation to feel the wrath of a music industry body over so-called breaches of copyright, with the Edinburgh-based company ending up in court for allegedly allowing its staff to listen to the radio at work.

According to the Performing Right Society (PRS), Kwik Fit mechanics and other staff routinely listen to their own radios while at work at a volume loud enough for customers to hear. This, apparently, constitutes a public performance of the music in question, making Kwik Fit liable to pay annual licensing fees to the PRS in the same way a radio station does.

Court allows action

In order to pass on the fees it believes its members are due, the PRS has sued Kwik Fit for £200,000 in damages. In return, the auto firm sought to have the claim thrown out of court, which failed when the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that the action can go ahead and be heard.

Setting aside the pending court action, the argument that the PRS is actually doing its members a disservice is hard to overlook. By seeking to stop anyone in these circumstances listening to the music its artists create, isn't the industry body being more than a tad churlish?

After all, hearing and enjoying a new artist by chance is more likely to create a fan who goes on to buy CDs and concert tickets than is promoting a sterile atmosphere in which only officially licensed operators can play that music.