PPL targets pubs and clubs over music copyright breaches

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags High court Copyright infringement

Pubs and clubs need a PPL licence to play recorded music
Pubs and clubs need a PPL licence to play recorded music
Music licensing body PPL took 230 cases to the High Court in 2013-14 as the music industry ramped up efforts to protect its intellectual property rights.

According to an analysis by City law firm RPC, the bulk of cases are likely to be for alleged copyright infringements against operators of pubs, nightclubs and other leisure establishments, which the organisation says do not hold the appropriate licence for the music played on their premises.

PPL launched 230 cases in the High Court in the year to July 2014, an increase of 10% on disputes brought the previous year.

RPC said the fall in revenues from the sale of recorded music through online piracy has fuelled the music industry in its pursuit of protecting its rights by enforcing compliance with its licensing requirements.  


Paul Joseph, copyright partner at RPC, said the music industry had nightclub and pub businesses firmly in its sights.

“Nightclubs, music venues and pubs are also a far easier target for the music licensing organisation to pursue for potential copyright infringement than an illegal online file sharing website that might be based thousands of miles away,” he said.

“While annual music licensing fees are typically modest, unpaid fees can quickly mount up over the course of a few years. PPL is quite willing to go all the way to the High Court to enforce its licences, as well as for the deterrent effect of an order for compensation.”

PPL licenses recorded music played in public, or broadcast on the radio or TV, representing both record companies and performers.

Pub operators have been critical of the organisation in the past over its plan to increase fees under the Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff for some venues by as much as 4,000%.

According to RPC, the Premier League also dramatically increased the number of High Court cases launched against licensed venues last year. It brought 36 cases to the High Court last year compared to five cases in 2013 as it stepped up its enforcement campaign.

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