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Policy and regulations

Guidelines and regulations can change often. So, it's always good to keep informed about which licences your business need to operate.

This page will give you a basic overview of the different licences you might need to operate your business. You will also find some useful links to webpages with further information.

We'll also highlight some new government policy that might be relevant to your business.

1. Copyright for showing films and TV programmes

If your business shows or provides films to guests through a DVD or steaming service, then you will need a copyright licence. Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the showing of TV programmes and film in public places requires a licence.

It's your responsibility to ensure the correct licence is in place. You'll need to cover television programmes and / or film use on your premises or to guarantee that such content is not displayed.


How do I get a licence?

There are two main film licensing companies who collect copyright royalties. They do so on behalf of different film studios in different circumstances:

Motion Picture Licensing Company

The Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) collect the copyright for films shown on TVs in commercial setting.

You might need this if you:

  • broadcast on television(terrestrial, freeview, or satellite services), DVD / Blu-ray, or TV programmes
  • allow for films being viewed from the internet within your hotel bedrooms, bars, restaurants, or other similar areas

Visit the MPLC website to apply for a licence

FilmBank Media

FilmBank Media provide films for businesses like hotels to show on in-house entertainment systems.

You might need this if you:

  • need a licence for single film screenings as part of a UK event
  • want an annual licence for impromptu screenings and background ambiance
  • have film screenings outside the UK, excluding North America
  • need annual or seasonal licences for hotels, guesthouses, and B&Bs, allowing on-site DVD film libraries

Visit the Filmbank Media website to apply for a licence

2. Copyright licences for music

TheMusicLicence from PPL PRS allows you to legally play music for employees or customers in your business. You can do so through the radio, TV, other digital devices, and live performances.

Before, businesses and organisations had to get separate music licences from PPL and PRS for music. But nowadays both are merged into one PPL PRS Ltd which launched TheMusicLicence.

  • Why do I need a licence?

    Because of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You need permission from relevant copyright holders – those who create, record and publish music – to play or perform music in public. Broadly speaking, this includes any presentation of music outside of a domestic setting.

  • How do I get a licence?

    If you play or perform music in your business or organisation in the UK, you will usually need TheMusicLicence. They can give you permission to play or perform music from many thousands of music rights holders in a single, simple transaction.

  • How much does a licence cost?

    The cost of TheMusicLicence for a particular business or organisation depends on a number of factors. This can be the size of the business or organisation and the ways it uses music.

3. Television licences

If you watch, record or stream TV content, you might need a licence. This applies to any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box, or DVD / VHS recorder.


Does my business need a TV licence?

Your business needs to be covered by a licence if staff, customers or visitors:

  • watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV, on any channel
  • watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer

You may also need a licence if staff, customers, or visitors:

  • use their own devices that are plugged into the mains

  • use their own devices not plugged into the mains and are not covered by a licence at their home address

4. Copyright on images

Copyright law exists to protect the creators of media from theft and misuse of their work. So, it’s important only to use images you own or have permission to use.

If you’re in doubt, don’t use the image.

5. New legislation

Short-term lets legislation

Scottish legislation for short-term lets came into effect in 2022. It introduced a licensing scheme and a new power which allows local authorities to introduce planning control areas. All short-term let providers must now have a licence to continue to operate. Read guidance and advice on Scotland's short-term lets legislation.

Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill

In May 2023, Scottish Government introduced a Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill to Parliament. If passed, it will allow councils to invest more in local tourism facilities and services by charging visitors a levy or fee on overnight stays. Read more about the Bill on the Scottish Parliament website.

Alongside the introduction of the Bill, Scottish Government invited representatives from the tourism industry and local authorities to join an Expert Group chaired by VisitScotland. More information on the Visitor Levy Expert Group.

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