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Visit Scotland | Alba

Policies and regulations

Guidelines and regulations can change often, and we thought it might be useful to give top line information on the main changes we’re aware of that may affect your business as well as links to those we’re frequently asked about.

This list is not extensive, and we would advise that you are fully up to speed on all policies and regulations related to your businesses. You can find out whether your business is regulated, whether you need a licence to operate and who you should apply to via the Scottish Government website.

And finally, be sure to take a look at our "More sources of advice" section for a variety of organisations that can help you, in particular Business Gateway who offer a range of professional resources, support and tools.

Copyright for showing films and TV programmes

If your business shows films or provides films to guests through a DVD or streaming 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.

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

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

Please note trade association UKHospitality has not yet accepted the legal basis for this new tariff and its applicability to tourism accommodation operators. It has broadcast a podcast looking at what MPLC is and what UKHospitality has been doing to support its members on this issue. Listen to S4, Ep3 Is your business affected by MPLC?

Previously there has been an exemption for showing films and TV programmes via free-to-air services, e.g. if you have TVs that play films on channels such as BBC or ITV.

However, you now need to gain a licence through the Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) to provide this service to your customers. Whether you broadcast on television (terrestrial, Freeview or satellite services), DVD/Blu-ray or TV programmes and films are viewed from the internet within hotel bedrooms, bars, restaurants or other similar areas, a MPLC licence will be required.

Take a look at the VisitBritain website where they have pulled out the most common licences available and for what type of business.

Copyright licences for music

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

Previously, businesses and organisations had to obtain separate music licences from PPL and PRS for Music. However, it has come together to form PPL PRS Ltd and launch TheMusicLicence.

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

If you play or perform music in your business or organisation in the UK, you will usually need TheMusicLicence. Instead of potentially having to contact many thousands of music rights holders individually for permission to play or perform their music, TheMusicLicence gives you those permissions in a single, simple transaction.

The cost of TheMusicLicence for a particular business or organisation depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the business or organisation and the ways it uses music.

Take a look at the TheMusicLicence website for more information on where it is necessary to have a licence, the cost and how to apply.

Television licences

Does your 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, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.

This applies to any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

You may also need a licence if:

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

Take a look at the TV Licensing website for more information on where it is necessary to have a licence, the cost and how to apply.

Imagery and copyright

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 | 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.

Read more on the importance of using good imagery online with tips on how to make the most of it and what to consider.

Food standards and guidance

If you offer catering or sell food and drink on your premises, then there are a number of resources which can help small catering or retail businesses with food safety management and food hygiene regulation. Take a look at the Food Standards Scotland website for more.

Related links