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Nightclub Boss Pays for Ignoring Music Recording Copyrights

The livelihoods of musicians and songwriters in large part depend on the collection of copyright licence fees from shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs where their recorded works are played. In one case, a nightclub owner who repeatedly failed to pay such fees ended up at risk of being jailed for his contempt of a court order.

Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), a music industry body which collects licence fees before distributing them to artists, had issued numerous reminders to the owner, who had promised compliance more than once but had still not paid. PPL eventually obtained a High Court injunction, which forbade him and his company from continuing to breach copyrights in protected musical works.

Visits to the club by PPL officers confirmed that breaches were continuing despite that order. In those circumstances, PPL applied to have the man committed to prison and for sequestration of his company’s assets. The Court found beyond reasonable doubt that both the man and the company, of which he was the sole director and shareholder, were guilty of contempt. Sentencing was deferred until a later date.