Animals & Money: Play music to your pets and you may have to pay up...


Like many animal caretakers, Rosemary Greenway puts on a little music to calm her horses. Music has powers to calm the savage beast, and all that. But now the Performing Rights Society says that playing the music at the Malthouse Equestrian Centre constitutes a public performance and she must pay a licensing fee of about $150 a year. The PRS says the audience it's concerned about is the stable staff of two, not the 11 horses who live at the stable, which is next to a military airport, which makes all kinds of scary noises.

Greenway turned the radio to a classical station. "The staff are not bothered whether they have the radio on or not, in fact they don't particularly like my music and turn if off when I'm not around," she told the Daily Telegraph.

PRS is the equivalent of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. It collects royalties for artists. But these groups around the globe have a hobby of trying to drum up fees from inappropriate targets. Finnish taxi drivers have to pay a fee to play the radio. In the UK charities, car repair shops, home businesses and even the police have come under scrutiny. In the U.S. bookstores and the Girl Scouts have squirmed. WIRED speculates it will start charging music in Second Life, too.The Nascent internet radio industry may collapse under the weight of these rules.