The Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) represents film studios and TV production companies and can collect royalties for members from businesses who show relevant content – in the same way that the PPL collects royalties on behalf of record companies.  MPLC only represents some copyright owners of films and programmes.  As a result of the Murphy case and others the copyright in film can be more easily collected – however, there is no copyright in live news or live sporting events.

MPLC began collecting copyright fees from bars and restaurants who have TVs on for customers.

What is the cost of a licence?

The cost of a licence starts at £97.85 per year and increases based on floor area.

Does every bar with a TV need a licence?

You do not need a licence if you can prove that you only show rolling news and live sports events to customers as there is no copyright in this.  In order to prove that this is all you show you would need to demonstrate either that the channels cannot be changed or that staff have been trained to ensure that the channel is not changed.

Your options

Bar and restaurant operators have 3 options:

  • Buy a licence
  • Show only live broadcasts
  • Remove TVs from your premises

See here for further details of licence charges

Proposed new hotel bedroom licence

MPLC now propose to introduce a new tariff for bedrooms which will include B&Bs, pubs and hotel where copyrighted films and TV programmes are shown.  The MPLC is currently proposing a tariff of £5.00 per room with a minimum annual licence fee of £25 per licence holder (not pub or hotel).  The new licence fee is set to be introduced from 1 January 2019.  If a premises can lock TV content shown in a bedroom to news, sport and music channels only then no licence fee would be payable to the MPLC.  In addition there will be no licence required where a guest is watching their own tablet or laptop.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.