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15 Mar 2012 | Press Release

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Dentists immune from music royalties claims - EU court

Legal/Indemnity Marketing

Dentists who have music playing in their surgeries should not pay royalties because they are not broadcasting to the public, the European Union'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.

Turin's Court of Appeal had asked the ECJ to clarify the legal position.

Italy's Societa Consortile Fonografici (SCF), a collecting agency acting for musicians and producers, brought the intellectual property case against Turin dentist Marco Del Corso.

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

But the ECJ ruled that "the public" refers to "an indeterminate number of potential listeners and a fairly large number of persons".

The profit-making nature of "communication to the public" was also a relevant criterion, the ECJ said.

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.

This article was reported by BBC News Europe online.

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