Legal News

Ignoring Court Ruling Brings Threat of Jail for Nightclub Owner

It is now quite well known that the public broadcast of music which is still under copyright requires a licence, but not many people appreciate that ignoring that requirement can lead to a jail sentence.

A Newport nightclub owner who failed to obtain a licence to play music when the club was operated by him or a company of which he was the sole director has found himself facing a prison sentence after judgment was given against him for failing to pay the licence fees charged for public performance rights by Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL). PPL grants licences to those who play music and the licence fee money enables royalties to be paid to the artists who own the copyright. The court had granted an injunction against the nightclub owner restraining him from committing further breaches and ordered him to clear his debt to PPL and to obtain a licence from them.

As a result of the owner's failure to make the payments due, even after much to-ing and fro-ing in court, and his continuing to breach the injunction against him, an order was made that he be held in contempt.

Even though the contempt of court was the nightclub owner's first offence, he was receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer and had several difficulties in his life, he was sentenced to 28 days in jail, suspended for 12 months on condition that he committed no further breaches. In addition, damages were awarded to PPL.

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