Dentists immune from music royalties

A new EU court ruling has established that dentists are not required to pay fees for the music they play.

Dentists who have music playing in their surgeries should not pay royalties because they are not broadcasting to the public, the EU’s top court has ruled.

The Luxembourg judges considered a case brought against a Turin dentist by an Italian agency that collects royalties.

Dentists do not broadcast music for profit and the audience is limited, the European Court of Justice ruled.

The court’s rulings are legally binding across the 27-nation EU.

Under international agreements those who broadcast copyright-protected works to the public are liable to pay royalties to the artists.

The case affecting dentists was raised by Turin’s Court of Appeal.

An Italian collecting agency, Societa Consortile Fonografici (SCF), challenged a Turin dentist, Marco Del Corso.

The ECJ ruled that ‘the public’ refers to ‘an indeterminate number of potential listeners and a fairly large number of persons’.

Patients do not go to surgeries to listen to music but ‘with the sole objective of receiving treatment’, and the number of people in a typical dental surgery is not large, indeed it is insignificant’, the judges explained.

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