EU dentists who play music don't owe royalties

European Union (EU) dentists who have music playing in their operatories should not pay royalties, because they are not broadcasting to the public, according to a March 15 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The case was raised by Turin's Court of Appeal after Societa Consortile Fonografici (SCF), an Italian agency that collects and distributes the royalties of its associated music producers, failed in its negotiations with the Association of Italian Dentists. Specifically, the SCF sought to establish a collective royalty payment agreement for any "communication to the public" of music produced by its associated music producers, including in private professional practices, according to an ECJ press release.

SCF's unsuccessful negotiations with the association prompted it to bring an action in the Italian courts against Marco Del Corso, a Turin dentist, seeking a declaration that he was broadcasting music protected by property rights in his dental practice and that such activity gave rise to the payment of "equitable remuneration."

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."

Patients do not go to the dentist 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.

Page 1 of 348
Next Page