Music Users

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs For Music Users

Who are IMRO?

IMRO is a registered licensing body under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 (‘the Act) whose function is the collection and distribution of royalties arising from the public performance of copyright musical works within its control. IMRO began operating in 1989, and at present has approximately 8,200 songwriter, composer and music publisher members, 25,000 licensees and through its agreements with sister societies around the world represents in Ireland the copyright owners of over 14 million copyright musical works.

Is it a legal requirement to hold an IMRO licence?

Yes. If a music user, be it a radio station, a concert promoter, a shop, an employer, or any business premises, wishes to have copyright music made available (Sec 40 (1) of the Act) to the public (‘public’ being defined in case law as anywhere outside the domestic environment), the user must obtain the permission of the copyright owner (Sec 37 of the Act) for such public use. IMRO, as a licensing body under the Act, is in a position to grant permission in respect of the worldwide repertoire of copyright music within its control, this repertoire covering the overwhelming majority of copyright music.

What is Copyright Music?

A piece of music is the intellectual property of its composer or author. Under the Act that composer or author has the exclusive right as the owner of the work to allow the use of that work by others. When you use their music in your business or workplace, this qualifies as a public performance of copyright music under the Act and you need the owners permission to do so. IMRO can give you that permission.

What is meant by “public performance”?

A public performance of copyright music takes place when that music is used anywhere outside of the domestic environment.

Where does the money collected by IMRO go to?

After a deduction for cost (approximately 13%), all royalties collected are paid directly to songwriters, composers and publishers.

Do I need a licence? All I use is a TV / radio!

Yes you do. All TV and radio broadcasts contain copyright music, hence an IMRO licence is required.. Holding an IMRO licence is a legal requirement if you are using IMRO controlled copyright music in any business or workplace in the Republic of Ireland, including the use of music via TV’s, radios, music systems, PC’s, music in presentations, music on hold, live music, discos, karaoke, etc.

Why do I need an IMRO licence if I already pay my TV licence?

A TV licence is a certificate that states that you have paid the appropriate fee to the government and contributed to the cost of public service broadcasting in Ireland. A TV licence does not cover you for the public performance of copyright music via your TV.

We’re only a small business, does this apply to us?

Having an IMRO licence is a legal requirement for all music users, large and small. Our tariffs are set to take into account different sized businesses and different uses of music within those businesses. 

Do I need any other licence?

Yes, you may also require a licence from Phonographic Performance Ireland (PPI). They look after the interests of the record labels who own the copyright in the sound recording. For further information on PPI please go to http://www.ppiltd.com/

How much does an IMRO licence cost?

The cost of obtaining an IMRO licence varies from premises to premises. Click here to see a list of our tariffs for various premises types.

Do IMRO’s tariffs change from year to year?

Yes, all of our charges are linked to movements in the Consumer Price Iindex (CPI).

It’s only staff that listen to the radio / watch TV in the workplace, the general public don’t have access to the business premises so why do I still have to pay for an IMRO licence?

It is irrelevant who in your organisation has access to copyright music via the TV/radio. What is relevant is that the use of music in the workplace is in public and is considered a public performance of the copyright work, because the performance / music use is taking place outside of the domestic environment.

Do I need a licence if I only watch / listen to the news?

Yes you do. An IMRO licence is required if you use a TV or radio in public, even if you only listen to a news channel such as Sky News or BBC News. Copyright music is used during such programming, be it in the introduction/theme music to the news program, within the news program itself or be it in the advertisements broadcast on the TV or radio channel. 

We hardly ever turn on the TV / Radio, do I still need a licence?

Yes. IMRO charges on an annual basis for the use of its copyright music. Purchasing an IMRO licence gives you the legal right to use as much or as little IMRO music in a year as you wish.

Do I need an IMRO licence to play classical music?

In a lot of instances, yes. Music in the classical genre is often within copyright and would require permission from the copyright holder for any public performance. Copyright in musical works remains in place for 70 years after the composer’s death.

Is it possible to take out a licence for just a few months?

No. IMRO charges on an annual basis for the use of its copyright music. 

I use my PC to listen to music. Do I need a licence for that?

An IMRO licence is required for the public use of any copyright music by any mechanical means. This includes the use of music via a PC or, via access to music streaming on the internet e.g. on YouTube, iTunes, Eircom Music Hub, etc.

The staff bring in their own radio, it doesn’t belong to the company.

Under Sec 37 (2) of the Act ‘the copyright in a work is infringed by a person who without the licence of the copyright owner undertakes, or authorises another to undertake’, the public performance of the work. Therefore in effect by allowing staff use their own radio in the workplace, you are, as their employer, authorising the use of IMRO copyright music on your premises and you must hold a licence to allow you and them to do so. 

The business next door has a radio, and they don’t have a licence. Why should I get one?

IMRO monitors the use of its repertoire in public. Any business found to be using IMRO copyright music without the legally required IMRO licence is breaking the law.

I want to use music in my business, but I refuse to take out a licence. What can IMRO do to stop me?

It is an offence under Sec 140 of the Act to infringe copyright by broadcasting, playing or performing copyright music in public without a licence to do so. The penalty on conviction is a maximum fine of €127,000 and/or imprisonment for up to five years.