The IPKat presents the first in an occasional new series, which Merpel has insisted that he name “Kitty Litter”. This aim of this series is to bring misunderstandings of intellectual property to the attention of readers.

The first example of such a misunderstanding assailed the ears of IPKat blogmeister Ilanah while listening to Thought for the Day, Radio 4’s morning pseudo-theology slot. Anne “Agony” Atkins, former agony aunt for the Daily Telegraph began her tirade against over-regulation with the words
For the last few weeks our daughter has been teaching our two year old the first strains of Once in Royal David's City. The slightly optimistic idea behind this is that Rosalie will melt the heart of the neighbourhood when we go carol singing. But alas, there's to be no more good cheer in exchange for a mug of punch or mince pie. Though we've never accepted money, we might now need a Live Performance Licence to sing carols in public - probably applied for in triplicate last February.

Anne Atkins - her words will have IP lawyers in agony

The IPKat points out that Ms Atkins is rallying against a man of straw. Once in Royal David’s City was written in 1848 and set to music in 1849. Like many carols, it is well out of copyright and no one can use copyright law to stop her daughter from singing her heart out.

The IPKat invites readers to send him other examples of flawed understanding of IP for posting.

THE IPKAT PRESENTS...KITTY LITTER THE IPKAT PRESENTS...KITTY LITTER Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, December 08, 2005 Rating: 5


  1. I think the IPKat is being a bit oversensitive about the use of the word 'licence'. Anne was not referring to licence of the copyright, but of a licence to provide entertainment, as required by the government

    Obviously, this still only applies to premises and not to carol singers - but maybe she was being a bit tongue in cheek!

  2. I noticed that too, but I assumed that the licence she was talking about was for public entertainment on the streets, not copyright. I applaud the idea of posting these misunderstandings as they are many and disturbing. You can find a few old chestnuts at the moment at Copyright suffers a lot but I think there is also a lot of scope for a better understanding of what the patent system is for Ian Karet and David Rosenberg brought out during the JIPLP launch.

  3. While we are on the topic of IP errors, the Kat may wish to consider taking down the linked Hello cover featuring Ms CZJ and Mr Douglas in the "Latest IP&T" item.

    The Kat should be reminded that those images are the subject of an injunction re-instated by the Court of Appeal. And the present state of the law is that each fresh publication of a photograph amounts to a fresh intrusion.

    Raises interesting questions about the status of the cover in those circs. . .

  4. This is nothing to do with carol singers, as the entertainment licence link makes plain. This is a plain copyright issue.

    As to the IP Dog's assertion, the CZJ/Douglas cover pic remains on the blog unless the IP Dog can persuade the IPKat that, on the current state of UK law, the link is indeed a fresh intrusion on the couple's privacy, which the IPKat strenuously denies.

  5. Hi Jeremy

    This time you have the wrong end of the stick...

    The issue is not the performing right (an aspect of copyright), but the need for a licence for performance of many kinds (what used to be a PEL but has not ben a PEL since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force).

    Google my name (in the format below) and you will find a whole slew of stuff I wrote for the Performer-Lawyer group about this and related issues while the act was a bill.

    See Section 11 (licence for licensable activities)
    S. 1(1) - "Licensable activity" includes "regulated entertainment"
    S. 193 - "premises" means "any place"
    Sch 1 - definition of "regulated entertainment", highlights as follows

    Para 1(2) - condition that entertainment be provided for the public or a section of the public, for members of a club, or otherwise for consideration..."
    Para 1(3) - condition that premises are made available for purposes including the provision of entertainmnet
    Para 2(1) - entertainment includes any performance of live music - if in the presence of any audience and for purposes that include entertaining that audience.

    So carol singing needs a licence.

    These stupid provisions are going to massacre unamplified folk music which I for one find culturally important. The old "two in a bar" exemption for music disappears, but amplified replay of broadcasts, no matter how loud, are exempt (Para 8).

    A more complex situation about the transitional provisions means that in most cases jukeboxes in pubs (no matter how loud) will escape effective regulation under this act (but of course a PRS licence, in practice the juke box operators blanket licence, will still be needed for copyright music).

    Hope that helps clarify.


    Richard McD. Bridge

  6. Richard McD Bridge's comment is posted by "rogerthechorister". Isn't that unlawful too, or is the government issuing licences ...?


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