Escape Bar & Nightclub on the Gold Coast flagrantly refused to pay music licence fees for three years, despite early intervention from APRA AMCOS – a decision which has cost them a whopping $115,000.
A Federal Circuit Court judge ordered a series of fines and compensation that sends a clear message to clubs currently skirting the licensing laws.
Judge Manousaridis said, “APRA requested the respondents desist from infringing its copyright in the Works and the APRA Repertoire works but the respondents repeated the infringing acts.”
The club director failed to turn up to two hearings, which is frowned upon in the legal world.
“By failing to appear before the Court or otherwise take any step in the proceeding, the respondents have failed to defend the proceedings with due diligence”, Manousaridis explained.
Manousaridis awarded $32,899.84 + $3,849.48 interest in licence fees APRA AMCOS should have collected under the Recorded Music for Dance Use licence between 1 September 2014 to 23 July 2017. In addition there were costs of $8,930 awarded.
It’s the other fines that send a clear message though.
The judge awarded $35,000 in damages against the Escape Bar & Nightclub Pty Ltd and an additional $35,000 against the Director Mr Ritchardson for “the flagrancy and sustained infringement.”
Judge Manousaridis said he hopes the judgement “will communicate to the public the kinds of acts that constitute infringement of copyright of musical and literary works and deter persons from engaging in such acts; and it will communicate the Court’s disapproval of the respondents’ acts.”
Mr Richard Mallett, Head of Revenue at APRA AMCOS said: “What this judgment shows is that music is incredibly important to hospitality operators in attracting volumes of patrons who dictate the health of their bottom line.
“Music licensing needs to be calculated into operational costs, just like insurance and staff superannuation so that a business can not only be compliant with regulation but develop a true profit projection of a proposed business venture.
“Our members and the members belonging to rights management organisations around the world need to be fairly compensated when their works are used outside domestic settings.”
It’s a great victory for Australian musicians, and songwriters. Well done, APRA AMCOS!