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Bar Owner Pays Price for Failing to Pay Music Copyright Licence Fees

barEveryone in the hospitality industry should know that playing copyright musical works in public requires payment of licence fees, but few may be aware of the potentially dire consequences of failing to do so. In one case, a defiant bar owner was ordered to pay more than £60,000 in compensation and legal costs.

The man was the licensee of two venues where music was played to customers but had failed to pay licence fees to Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), the company that represents the interests of musicians and music publishers. Despite various attempts to avoid payment, including a concerted effort to hide his true identity, his defence was struck out and judgment was entered against him.

In the circumstances, a judge ordered him to pay £13,783 in damages for infringement of copyright, plus PPL’s legal costs, which came to nearly £45,000. Additional damages of £2,000, to reflect the flagrancy of his infringements, were also awarded. The man had been declared bankrupt while the proceedings were ongoing.