GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL: Festival fights 85,000 pounds claim for royalties

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The Independent Online
WHILE the revellers at Glastonbury are celebrating peace, love and understanding, the organisers of the festival are grappling with a writ from the Performing Rights Society demanding more than pounds 44,000.

The PRS, which represents over 25,000 composers, authors and publishers, claims that the festival has not fully paid its pounds 85,000 bill for last year's event.

Every year the society sends a team to the festival - this year there are six - to talk to the 1,000- odd performers and try to get lists of all the songs performed. They get full co-operation from the organisers, and wander around backstage quizzing performers on their play lists.

The PRS team then returns to London with the lists, compare them with a database of 16,000 million protected by the society. In law, every time one of these songs is performed the original composer, or whoever owns the rights to the song, should get a share of the proceeds.

'Glastonbury have disputed the amount of money we charged for last year. They have paid some but we are after the rest,' Jez Bell, acting manager for the PRS's concerts department, said.

This is the first time the PRS has taken action against Glastonbury, Mr Bell said. 'We have to protect our members' interests.'

The festival organisers are determined to fight the writ, saying that they would rather continue paying large sums to charity, such as last year's pounds 250,000 to Greenpeace, Oxfam and others, than to the PRS.

A festival spokesman said the PRS was trying to change the basis on which it charged, from a percentage of half the total gate money in the past to the whole of the gate money. He said this was unfair as Glastonbury is far more than a music festival.

'Our theatre budget is as big as our music budget. Out of a pounds 3.47m budget we already pay pounds 360,000 to the police and pounds 200,000 for other security, more than we do on the bands.

'We'd rather give what's left over to charity than the PRS.'