Dentists can play soothing music to their patients without paying royalties to publishers but hotels must pay up, Europe's top court ruled on Thursday.
The EU Court of Justice stood by Italian dentist Marco Del Corso after the Societa Consortile Fonografici, an agency that collects royalties for producers, took him to court for not paying to play background music in his Turin practice.
The judges ruled that dentists should not pay royalties since they play music free of charge in their private practice for the enjoyment of just a few people, and not for profit.
"The patients of a dentist visit a dental practice with the sole objective of receiving treatment, as the broadcasting of phonograms is not a part of dental treatment," the court said.
Hotels, however, must pay royalties to producers for playing music in rooms, the judges said in a separate ruling related to a case in Ireland.
Phonographic Performance (Ireland) Limited (PPL), a collecting society in Ireland, brought court action against the Irish government, arguing that Dublin breached EU law by exempting hotel operators from paying royalties.
The court ruled in favor of PPL in this case, saying hotel guests "constitute a fairly large number of persons, such that they must be considered to be a 'public'".
"The broadcasting of phonograms by a hotel operator is of a profit-making nature," it said.
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