Challenge the Law against Amplification

As we are into the new year and the Fringe is approaching I thought it would be a good time to share and let everyone know where we stand as buskers who need to use amplification.

Peter Pik has been coming to the Fringe for the last five years and plays instrumental guitar which needs to be amplified in order to be heard. However over those years there has been a campaign to shut down amplification and one of the main proponents for this ludicrous idea lives on Rose St where amplification is particularly resisted with signs and phone calls to the police.

Notice From Police Banning Amplification at Edinburgh Fringe

Notice From Police

Peter managed to get himself a notice from the police with a warning that his gear could be taken off him.

The notice quotes the Civic Government Act 1982 Section 54 and in no way refers to the use of amplification. The law is a good and helpful one because lets remember you don’t need an amplifier to cause breach of the peace. You could do it with your voice alone never mind drums, brass bands and bagpipes! As Peter said in the video they should be measuring decibels and have an agreed “loudness”.

What does the notice actually say?

But if you read it it says if a person plays, sings, performs or operates a sound device and here is the important bit … and gives another person reasonable cause for annoyance. And there in lies the question of what is reasonable cause for annoyance?

Against Ban on Amplification at Edinburgh Fringe

Peter Pik Against Ban on Amplification at Edinburgh Fringe

So we went to Rose St to test the Theory. Peter set up and started to play some soft beautiful music where all the Al Fresco diners and drinkers were wafted with delightful tunes. As I watched on a woman went up to speak to Peter and I assumed she was complimenting him but it turned out it was the anti amplification ambassador of Rose St. She had told him to turn it off or she was going to phone the police! Needless to say Peter just carried on and we waited for the police and I asked people sitting around if they found Peter’s music annoying to which everyone said “No” and some got up and gave him tips.

We filmed the chat with the Police

Now the video isn’t that good but basically Peter is asking the Police if they thought his music was causing annoyance and the Police themselves admitted that it wasn’t annoying and was pretty good. The upshot of the whole conversation was that the Police were perfectly happy for him to carry on using his amplification (right across from the No Amplification sign)

It’s all crazy

If you are lucky enough to have a flat on Rose St there is one thing that you have to own with it and that is that the Fringe or any busker is gonna come along and play. It’s like buying a flat in New Orleans and wanting to shut down the Mardi Gras because it’s too loud.

Now the lady in question was watching from her window and gleefully watched the Police talk to Peter but was flabbergasted that after the Police left Peter just carried on playing. Well her blood must have boiled because before you knew it six Police Officers walked past Peter, slowly listening to his music congregated for a bit along the street and then went on their merry way.

Conclusion fellow buskers

So here is the take away from this for all the buskers. It is not against the law to use amplification but you do need to remember to not be a nuisance, keep your acts entertaining and fun and you won’t have any complaints.

Happy Fringing in 2018 :-)


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