Soulfest promoter ordered to pay more than $400,000 damages

Wednesday, 07 Sep 2016

At a hearing at the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney yesterday, Judge Alexander Street ordered Mr John Denison of Soulfest International Pty Ltd to pay APRA AMCOS $437,000 in compensatory and additional damages for flagrant infringement of the Copyright Act (1968) as well as $70,000 in legal costs.  

The court action followed a protracted effort by APRA to resolve the promoter’s failure to license the performances that took place at Soulfest 2014. Although not the subject of the proceedings, the promoter had a history of licensing difficulties in connection with previous events and tours, including Supafest.

Mr Denison, who did not appear in court, continues to trade as a concert promoter under a new corporate entity, iLive Entertainment.

Mr Richard Mallett, Head of Revenue at APRA AMCOS said, “Judge Street made a number of important comments about the importance of APRA AMCOS, and that the evidence demonstrated that APRA AMCOS was willing to deal with this promoter even with all the difficulties he posed. His Honour said that it is to APRA AMCOS’ credit that it made so many genuine attempts to license the events so that it could promote live music while still protecting its membership. And it was pleasing to note his Honour also acknowledged APRA AMCOS’ essential role in promoting live music performances in Australia.”

“We maintain APRA AMCOS’ members are among the most vulnerable service providers when it comes to promoters like this. Venues, caterers and artists are able to withhold their services - but songwriters’ work cannot be withheld ‘after the fact.’ Their only recourse is to trust in the courts and their membership to APRA AMCOS, to protect their rights.

“I read in Fairfax Media that Mr Denison has said, on record, that he’s been sued for a long time and that he is an expert at this, so I was not surprised that the Judge found that the conduct of Mr Denison demonstrated an intentional disregard for the licensing requirements and the interests of the copyright owner, and demonstrated a level of dishonesty,” said Mr Richard Mallett.

“APRA AMCOS licenses more than 6,600 one-off events annually and there are 60 major event promoters who are licensed with us. The ruling provides an assurance to these compliant businesses that there is a one-in, all-in approach to licensing,” said Mr Richard Mallett.


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