Illegal music costs nightclub owner £20,000

The owner of a bar in Newport has been warned by the High Court that he risks a 28-day jail term if the venue continues to play recorded music without a licence.

At a High Court hearing on 22 June, John Fletcher, owner of the Birdcage, was also ordered to pay £6,000 in damages and £14,000 in court costs.

Mr Justice Arnold imposed the order and suspended prison sentence on 29 June after hearing that Mr Fletcher persistently failed to comply with the legal requirement to have a Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) music licence after being repeatedly contacted and given the opportunity to comply with the licence requirement.

Mr Fletcher had breached an earlier injunction granted to PPL in late 2013 when it became clear that the Birdcage was using recorded music without a PPL licence, which is required to play recorded music or music videos in public, including on a TV or radio.

Christine Geissmar, operations director at PPL, said: “This ruling demonstrates how seriously the courts treat copyright infringement and reiterates that music can only be played in public if the right licences are obtained. Businesses that choose to play recorded music without a licence may face legal action and possibly hefty financial and other consequences as a result.

“PPL issues licences to hundreds of thousands of businesses and organisations across the UK when they play recorded music to their staff or customers. Licensees include bars, nightclubs, shops, hotels, offices, factories, gyms, schools, universities and public sector organisations up and down the country.”

Palmers can provide expert advice and assistance on all aspects of licensing, including liquor, entertainment and late night refreshment, as well as providing support in criminal cases relating to licensing and regulatory matters. For more information, please contact Jeremy Sirrell.