About Performing Right Society [trading as PRS for Music] for Schools

CEFM are the collection agents within the UK schools sector for the PRS for Music. In turn, the PRS for Music administers the performance right on behalf of music composers, songwriters and publishers. A PRS for Music Licence is required for the non-curricular use of copyrighted music in schools.

The PRS for Music administers the performance right on behalf of music composers, songwriters and publishers. The PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) works in a similar way on behalf of the record companies that manufacture the product. CEFM are the collection agents within the UK schools sector for PRS for Music and from the 1st April 2008, PPL also.

Please note that for the use of pre-recorded music (tapes, records or CD’s) a Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) licence is required in addition to a PRS for Music licence.

Any infringement of PRS for Music copyright will be pursued by the PRS for Music Copyright Protection Office and could lead to civil proceedings.

By law (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988), a PRS for Music licence is required whenever copyrighted music is used in schools in a non-curricular manner. We have highlighted below some common types of school music use where a PRS for Music licence is required:

  • Discos/end of term parties
  • Carol concerts
  • Concerts (not including musicals)
  • Telephone systems music on hold
  • Playing a radio/tape/CD player
  • School fetes (where music is being played)
  • Jukebox
  • Dance/Aerobics classes, for students and staff of the school only
  • TV/Films
    • A PRS for Music licence is required to cover the premises for any incidental music contained within a film’s showing. It does NOT cover you to show the film itself
    • For information regarding the licensing of showing films in school, please see our PVS Licensing section

Some activities that take place within schools fall outside of what is covered by CEFM’s licence tariffs and should therefore be covered with additional licensing direct from PRS for Music:

  • Recording music i.e. recording a carol concert and giving away or selling copies
  • School radio station
  • Music on website or intranet
  • Gyms or leisure centres, in dedicated areas or buildings, open to individuals not associated with the schools and/or operated commercially including Dance and Aerobics lessons.
  • Featured music at events, or in facilities, run by a party other than the school or where any profit or benefit does not go entirely to the school. This includes, but is not limited to concerts, festivals, theatrical performances.
  • Any other commercial uses that could not reasonably be considered part of schools activities and would be licensable under other PRS for Music tariffs

Who are PRS for Music?

PRS for Music is the UK association of composers, songwriters and music publishers, created in 1914. PRS for Music is a non-profit making organisation, that administers the performance right in their members’ music, in relation to the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

Why you need a licence

The performance right in a piece of music is the right of the creator to control where and when their work is used.

Every time a piece of music is performed in public, the creator is entitled by law to charge a fee for that use. It would be impractical for all concerned if every time you wanted to perform a piece of music you first had to track down the creator to negotiate a fee and so for this reason creators of music assign their performance right to the PRS for Music.

PRS for Music then issue licences to premises where music created by their members is heard in public, such as pubs, clubs, restaurants, shops, schools, municipal buildings and so on. Based on statistical surveys and information received from both users of music and PRS for Music members, the fees collected by PRS for Music are distributed to members on an annual basis.

In many cases this is the creators’ only source of income and allows them to continue creating music. Unlicensed music use is illegal and denies the creator their rightful income, which may cause some to stop creating music altogether.

What the licence allows you to do

The licence granted by PRS for Music allows the public performance (in its original form), of any of their member’s work on the licensed premises, by means of live recital or mechanical device such as tapes, CDs, radios.

PRS for Music also has reciprocal links with similar rights agencies throughout the world and so the licence also grants permission for the public performance of most music created around the world.

Payment of the annual royalty allows the unlimited use of background or mechanical music (including such things as the use of televisions, radios or stereos in common rooms, offices or communal areas, jukeboxes and telephone music on hold, etc.), and unlimited featured music events such as bands and orchestras, or recorded music events such as discos or Karaoke.

Other licences you might need

In relation to performances of music, it is very likely that your school will also require licensing by the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) who licence the public performance of sound recordings on behalf of the record company that created the recording, and the recording artist themselves.

PRS for Music and PPL are separate agencies that administer separate rights. From 1st April 2008, information regarding the PPL licence can also be obtained from CEFM. Having a PRS for Music or a PPL licence alone is not sufficient for the public performance of musical works via the use of sound recordings.

Copyrightandschools.org provide a very useful guide to licensing in schools to help you identify your copyright licensing requirements.

Further queries

If you have any queries regarding the scope of the PRS for Music licence after reading our Frequently Asked Questions page, please contact a member of the helpline team to discuss your school’s individual requirements.