Escape Bar refused to pay music licence fees, judge orders to pay original bill + $83,000

Thursday, 09 Nov 2017

A Federal Circuit Court judge last week found Escape Bar & Nightclub Pty Ltd, Surfers Paradise, had been unlawfully using music (copyright works) for three years and had refused to take out a Recorded Music for Dance Use licence from APRA AMCOS.

Despite the unlawful use of music commencing in September 2014, APRA AMCOS spent three years attempting to appraise the nightclub’s Director, Mr Steven Ritchardson, of the rights infringement and attempting to secure a licence for his venue.

When visited, Mr Ritchardson’s venue was found to be unlawfully using works in APRA AMCOS’ repertoire:

  • Break Free, Ariana Grande
  • Wannabe, Spice Girls
  • Beauty and a Beat, Justin Bieber ft. Nicki Minaj
  • It’s My Life, Bon Jovi
  • Some Kinda Rush, Booty Luv
  • Body Ache, Britney Spears
  • U + Ur Hand, P!nk
  • What I Did For Love, David Guetta ft. Emeli Sandé
  • Highway To Hell, AC/DC
  • 24K Magic, Bruno Mars
  • Side to Side, Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj

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.”

Left with no alternative, APRA AMCOS filed the application to proceed on 16 August 2017. There was no appearance by the nightclub’s Director at the first hearing on 6 September 2017 or the second on 20 September 2017.

The judge awarded $32,899.84 for licence fees APRA AMCOS would have received from Escape Bar & Nightclub Pty Ltd under the Recorded Music for Dance Use licence scheme for the period 1 September 2014 to 23 July 2017.

The judge also awarded $3,849.48 for interest on these fees for 1 September 2014 to 24 October 2017 and costs of $8,930.

The judge awarded $35,000 in additional damages against Escape Bar & Nightclub Pty Ltd and $35,000 in additional damages against the sole Director Mr Ritchardson for “the flagrancy and sustained infringement”, according to Judge Manousaridis.

Judge Manousaridis added that the judgment “serves to deter other night club owners from infringing copyright in musical works” and “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.”

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